Positive signs for Pinoy sports

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2020 - 12:00am

We won as one in the last Southeast Asian Games and it was a milestone event that brought honor to our country. But beyond the medal tally, there was a more telling message that spoke volumes of a bright future for Philippine sports. Fencing Confederation of Asia president and former POC president Cito Dayrit put it in perspective by pointing out several significant achievements in the SEA Games.

• Not only did we win the overall championship for the second time but last year’s output was more in terms of total medals won, in gold, silver or bronze. (In 2005, the Philippines won its first overall SEA Games championship with 291 total medals broken down into 113 gold, 85 silver and 93 bronze. Last year, the Philippines hauled in a total of 387 medals composed of 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze.)

• Not only did we reverse the dismal performance of our country in the past six SEA Games from 2007 to 2017, last year’s performance was our best in the 60-year history of the regional biennial games.

• With 56 sports in the program, not only were the 2019 SEA Games the biggest ever in the history of the conclave, it could very well be the biggest sporting event in the world, surpassing the number of sports played in any Olympic or Asian Games.

• Because of our performance, we have rebooted and revived our mainstream sports that would ensure a better finish for our country in the next SEA Games in Vietnam. This is in stark contrast to our drop to sixth place in the 2007 SEA Games despite coming from our overall championship in 2005.

• Because of our success in the last SEA Games, not only is our pool of national athletes at its largest ever, we have expanded our list of sports with medal potentials such as skateboarding, surfing, jiu jitsu, kickboxing, sambo and kurash.

• Because of the 2019 SEA Games, we discovered new “gold mines” in the sports of modern pentathlon, obstacle course and e-sports, to name a few.

Additionally, Dayrit said at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, not only did the Philippines improve to 19th overall from 22nd in 2014 but it was also the best finish since 18th place in 2002. “In just the past two years, the Philippines has made great strides in the field of international sports,” said Dayrit. “Had it not been for the pandemic this year, the Philippines could’ve had its best performance in the 2020 Olympics.” So far, only four Filipinos have qualified for the rescheduled Olympics in Tokyo but more are knocking on the door. There’s still a strong possibility that when the Olympics are finally held in July, the Philippines will deliver a historic performance.

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