Worst SEAG fin­ish

Sun.Star Cebu - - PRIME SPORTS - JOHN Z. PAGES john@pages.ph

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 we 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 its 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.

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.

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