Our sports leaders projected a haul of 50 gold medals in Kuala Lumpur. They badly missed the target. Instead, Team PHL finished with only 24 gold medals. How bad is this result? Two years ago in Singapore, we collected 29. We pocketed the same 29 first-prize medals in Myanmar in 2013. Prior to that, we performed much better: 36 gold in Jakarta (2011), 38 in Laos (2009), 41 in Thailand (2007) and our biggest harvest in our SEAG history, a whopping 113 gold medals when he hosted in 2005.
What happened? We have been slipping, sliding, sinking and slumping. As each odd year passes, we deteriorate. We sent 497 athletes and 163 officials and got humiliated. Imagine 113 gold medals in 2005 and a dozen years later we’re down to 24? What’s sad is this: there will be plenty of finger-pointing among the POC and PSC and NSAs and many other three-letter organizations but, after months pass, all is forgotten.
The only good news? It’s our hosting of SEAG 2019. For sure, given that we own the homecourt advantage and get to choose the events, our standing will improve. It’s possible we’ll collect 50, 75 or 94 in 24 months’ time.
This Southeast Asian Games practice of allowing the host nation to choose the events it wants is gaining controversy. One of the complainants is Thailand. Back in 2015, Thailand was the overall champion of this 11-nation meet, winning 95 gold medals versus the 84 won by Singapore. This was two years ago. This week, they only won 70 and were clobbered by the 142 gold medals of the hosts. (In contrast, Malaysia only got 62 gold medals in 2015. That’s an increase of 80 gold medals!)
“They organise sports they are good at and do not organise sports other countries are good at,” said Thana Chaiprasit, Thailand’s delegation chief.
Unlike the Olympics which relies on the 90-member International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide on the events, the SEAG has a different format. The host nation decides. (Speaking of the IOC, the Philippines only has one representative: Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, the daughter of POC President Peping Cojuangco.)
This I-get-to-choose-my-games arrangment has resulted in the host nation often defying the conventional results. In the last 10 SEA Games hostings, six host nations emerged overall champions.
As examples: Malaysia’s 62 gold medals in 2015 became 142 this week. As for the Philippines’ 24 gold medals today, we have reason to smile in the months ahead. When we hosted in 2005, we garnered an improbable 113 gold medals.
Mr. Chaiprasit of Thailand complained that Malaysia dropped women’s boxing and included squash. Malaysia even included ice hockey and ice skating (a SEAG first), maybe to increase it’s tally. And if you’re wondering why we haven’t heard about Hidilyn Diaz, who won silver at the Olympics? That’s because they scrapped women’s weightlifting!
What does this mean for the Philippines? It means that from the lowliest of scores that we received this week (24 gold), we have a chance to reverse this because of this crazy, almost-unfair rule.
For 2019 and to gain back our No. 1 spot, I suggest we include takyan, patintero, sungka, jack-en-poy, holen, and tubig-tubig.