A distinguished sportsman has been chosen to lead the national athletes when they defend their overall crown in the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi this November.
In a special board meeting yesterday, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) formally appointed sports commissioner Ramon Fernandez to serve as chief of mission in the biennial meet.
The job will not be easy.
With the country being battered by the coronavirus pandemic, Fernandez has to restart the training to make sure that the national athletes would be able to defend the title they won when the country hosted the biennial meet in 2019.
So far, only athletes from boxing, taekwondo and karatedo were given the green light to train using a bubble concept at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is bankrolling the program and Fernandez was tapped to coordinate with the national sports associations to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
“I am very humbled and honored to be chosen by the POC as chief of mission of the SEA Games,” said Fernandez, a revered figure in Philippine basketball.
A 19-time champion in the Philippine Basketball Association and silver medalist in the Beijing Asian Games in 1990, Fernandez will have huge shoes to fill.
When the country hosted the Games, it was PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez who served as chief of mission, leading Team Philippines to 149 gold medals in 56 sports.
Now, Vietnam will be holding only 40 sports, and getting into playing condition amid the coronavirus pandemic has been a massive challenge.
“We have already proven that we can be on top. I would like to believe that it’s the way that we prepared which led us to success in the previous SEA Games,” Fernandez said.
“We’ve spent so much to train and compete abroad and we saw how our athletes developed and won medals in 2019. That is the formula.”
“If we want to win it again, then we have to work on the budget. That is the key for our athletes to be at part with the best in the world.”
POC auditor Cynthia Carrion said they chose Fernandez for his ability to rally the athletes to victory.
“We have to really make sure that we won’t be lagging behind other countries,” Carrion said.
“It is our role to make sure such things won’t happen. Training should start now. It must not be delayed.”
Date: January 13, 2021 | By: Ian Suyu | Newspaper: Tribune | Source: https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2021/01/13/fernandez-to-lead-seag-bid/?fbclid=IwAR3WbkOpoYaJ3y2ks2IFVYgX_jx0rLCHvcJut_lVM4lGwnEK9oiUTpuCzog