HANOI — Halfway through the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, national team chef de mission Ramon Fernandez was guardedly optimistic that if the trend continues, the county would hit its goal of finishing third overall in the medal standings.
“We are halfway through the Games, and we are in the top three of the medal standings, thank God. We are well within our target of finishing at least third overall. We just have to maintain our performance until the end,” Fer-nandez noted on Tuesday.
Despite limited resources and training that was hampered by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic back home, the Filipino campaigners were putting up a gallant stand, delivering their biggest haul thus far the other day of 10 gold medals.
They were in the third spot with a tally of 30 golds, 34 silvers, and 50 bronzes as of Monday night, within striking distance of No. 2 Thailand (34-35-50), while host Vietnam continued to be out of reach at the top (83-50-55).
Dancesports and gymnastics accounted for more than half of the outputs on Monday with four and three mints, respectively, with the pair of Jean Mischa Aranar and Ana Nualla, completing a golden treble in tango, Viennese waltz, and all final dance standards at the Long Bien Gymnasium.
World champion Carlos Edriel Yulo, on the other hand, emerged as the country’s top individual athlete in adding the men’s vault and high bar mints to his bulging collection plus a silver in parallel bars at the Quan Ngua Sports Palace.
Among those who shared the spotlight were swimmer Chloe Isleta and bowler Merwin Tan, who produced the first golds for their respective disciplines in the 200-meter women’s backstroke and men’s singles events, respectively.
“We still have several sports where our athletes can win medals, and hopefully they can deliver,” said Mr. Fernandez, who is also a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission and has been in the Vietnamese capital since May 1 to oversee the needs of the Philippine delegation.
Still in the medal hunt were the Philippine standard-bearers in athletics, archery, boxing, basketball, bowling, billiards, weightlifting, starring Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, karatedo, taekwondo, wrestling, ca-noe-kayak, shooting, sepak takraw, muay thai and lawn tennis, according to the Team Philippines point man.
PSC ASSESSING PERFORMANCE
The Philippine Sports Commission is looking closely at the performance of national athletes in the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games to decide what sports will merit its continued support moving forward, according to na-tional team chef de mission Ramon Fernandez.
“We are closely evaluating the performance of our national athletes in the Vietnam SEA Games to determine what sports will continue to deserve our continued support,” said Mr. Fernandez on Tuesday at the halfway point of the regional sportsfest.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the government sports agency has been coping with scarce resources, so it is only fitting that they are used wisely for the National Sports Associations (NSAs) and their respective athletes,” the PSC commissioner pointed out.
Under the law creating the government sports agency, the PSC is largely dependent on the monthly remittances of the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp., which have been fluctuating since the pandemic struck the county in mid-March 2020.
“We are still under the pandemic so PAGCOR remittances to the PSC have not reached the previous peak levels we used to have before this virus crisis,” Mr. Fernandez said. “However, PSC chairman Butch Ramirez and the rest of the PSC board have made it a point that needs of the NSAs and their athletes have been met, including international exposure, under the circumstances,” he added.
“This is why we have to look closely and evaluate the performance of our national athletes here so the board can act and budget accordingly based on our assessment,” Mr. Fernandez stressed.
For the country’s participation in the regional sportsfest here, he said, the PSC spent P232 million in supporting the 980-strong Philippine contingent, including 641 athletes and 210 coaches in 38 sports.
The budget covers airfare, uniforms, equipment, hotel, and billeting plus allowances for the national team, among others.