2015 SEA Games even tougher for PH athletes

2015 SEA Games even tougher for PH athletes
By: June Navarro (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

NO LESS than 15 to 20 gold medals gone without a fight.

That’s the number of potential victories the country will have to do without based on the number of sports that Singapore plans to stage when it hosts the 2015 Southeast Asian Games.

Among the 17 sports set to be excluded are potential gold mines for Filipinos such as boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, rowing, karatedo, chess, muay and dancesport.

“By just looking at the list, we stand to lose 15 to 20 golds outright,” said Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia yesterday.

Eight Olympic sports, including equestrian, modern pentathlon, handball and volleyball, were initially scratched by the Singaporeans.

“We should come up with a formula that will make Olympic sports mandatory,” said Garcia. “Every country in the SEA Games dreams of winning a gold in the Olympics, so why don’t we focus on these sports?”

Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. said they would lobby for sports stricken off the roster during the SEA Games rules committee meeting on Dec. 9 in Nay Pyi Taw, Burma (Myanmar).

“Boxing is close to our hearts,” said Garcia. “I told those attending the meeting to have a strong stand. We should also campaign with the international federations of these sports.

“It’s sad because the government is investing a lot of money on these athletes only to find out that they’re not going to compete.”

Singapore organizers have approved 30 sports, including 20 Olympic disciplines.

Host countries usually pick sports where the chances of winning gold medals are strong.

Burma, which will host this year’s Games on Dec. 11 to 22, had also removed sports where Filipino athletes are favored to win gold medals. In all, the Philippines will not defend 16 victories won in the 2011 Indonesia Games.