PSC, POC eye early SEA Games buildup

PSC, POC eye early SEA Games buildup

By: Julius Manicad (The Daily Tribune)

Tired of the country's lowly standing in the Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) declared readiness to come up with all the necesarry preparations to make sure that Team Philippines will surpass its sixth-place finish in the previous edition of the SEA Games.

PSC chairman Ritchie Garcia yesterday said they are gearing for an all-out battle in the 27th SEA Games, starting with the deployment of athletes to various training centers in and outside the country.

Track and field athletes, for instance, are bound for the ultra-modern sports facilities in Canberra, Australia while China will be the training ground of weightlifters and wushu artists, who brought home a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. National wrestlers, on the other hand, are already booked to stay in Iran for 10 months to undergo the mentorship of world-class coaches.

"Our goal is to win as many medals as possible," Garcia said. "We're finalizing the trip of the track and field athletes where a Filipino community has pledged to help in the accomodation of our athletes."

Together with aquatics, athletics is the centerpiece of the biennial meet where 46 gold medals are at stake. The Philippines needs to bounce back as it won only two gold medals in the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia courtesy of long jump specialist Marestella Torres and steeplechaser Rene Herrera.

Thailand and Indonesia pocketed more than half of the gold medals at stake with victories in 14 and 13 track and field events, respectively.

The PSC boss also stressed that the country's weighlifters and wushu artists are out to squeeze out their best in China to somehow garner a lion's share of the gold medals at stake in their respective events. Wushu has 20 events while weightlifting has 14.

"We've been coordinating with our Chinese counterparts and so far, we're happy with the way they are dealing with Philippine sports," Garcia said. 

"We can take advantage of this by showing them friendship. Hopefully, this will become a very strong relationship in sports between China and the Philippines.

Wrestling Association of the Philippines secretary-general Karlo Sevilla said they're tapping SEA Games gold medalists Jason Balabal and Margarito Angana along with Alvin Lobreguito and Joseph Angana for a long-term training in Iran.

Sevilla said they hope to translate the projected 10-month training in Tehran into gold medals in which host country Myanmar scheduled 17 events.

In a previous statement, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), through chairman Tom Carrasco, stressed that another sixth-place finish is not an option, vowing that it will do everything to get Team Philippines out of the doldrums. 

"We're not promising the moon like we would be eying the overall championship, but, certainly we will do everything we are capable of doing to escape that deplorable finish," said Carrasco, also the president of triathlon.