MIRACLE ON ICE? Ice hockey will debut at the 2017 SEA Games, and the Philippines is hoping the new sport brings a new gold. Photo from Ferdinand Brawner's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Olympic Committee, led by chef de mission Cynthia Carrion, is optimistic about the Philippines’ chances of picking up medals in this year’s 29th Southeast Asian Games happening from August 19-30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In an interview with Rappler, Carrion expressed her excitement and confidently predicted that Philippines will be bringing 50 or more gold medals in the biennial multi-sporting event.

“I’m thinking we’re always at the bottom but this year, I’m really urging them (athletes) to try their very best. We cannot be at the bottom anymore,” said Carrion, who is also the President of the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines.

Carrion is hands-on with all the teams and assured those weaker sports who have not brought any gold yet will have their victories in the upcoming SEAG.

“I ask each of them (teams), ‘how many golds are you going to give me?’ and they are promising to give us 50 golds or more,” said Carrion.

“There are sports who always grab the gold like basketball and all that but I’m aiming to produce medals in sports that has never produced any golds like petanque and ice hockey.”

According to Carrion, Wushu vowed to bring home 4 to 5 gold medals while archery aims for 5.

“They are really preparing. I think if Filipinos believe in themselves, we do whatever we want, that’s the Filipino in us,” Carrion said.

No way but up

In the 2015 SEA Games hosted by Singapore, the Philippines finished in 6th place with 29 golds, 36 silvers and 66 bronzes totaling to 131 medals. Thailand clinched the top spot while the host country came in second against 11 nations.

This year, Carrion is hoping to climb two steps higher and grab the 4th seed.

“We should be in 4th place at least because in the ASEAN Summit, in GDP, Philippines is ranked 4th. I want it to be the same for sports,” Carrion shared.

The Philippines hosting the 2019 SEA Games gives the athletes motivation to perform better than ever.

“We’re going to be hosts soon. We can’t be losers.”

Currently, there are a total of 11 sports—billiards, sepak takraw, shooting, muay thai, petanque, gymnastics, ice hockey, triathlon, long ball, bowling and golf—who have submitted their rosters but it could be changed until the last day of submission.

“The coaches and staff could still change the lineup they’ve submitted in case there will be injuries or other unexpected events,” Gina Calaguas said. "Approximately, we'll have a maximum of 450 players."

POC’s targets to have all the names of the athletes by June 15. – Rappler.com