PASIG CITY - The newly-formed Philippine Olympic Committee-Philippine Sports Commission (POC-PSC) Task Force Southeast Asian (Sea) Games said Wednesday that every national sports association (NSA) must deliver at least one gold medal when the country competes in the 29th SEA Games slated August 19 to 31, 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In their first Task Force SEA Games meeting held at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) conference room at the Philsports Complex in Davao City Wednesday, PSC chairman William Ramirez said the one-for-one expectation will automatically give the country at least 37 gold medals that may perhaps improve the Philippines' sixth overall standing during the Singapore Sea Games held in 2015 following a 29-36-66 medal haul.
"That's the minimum requirement but other NSAs may produce more, take for instance weightlifting," he said, citing that Rio Olympics 2016 silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia could already account for two golds.
The Task Force SEA Games is composed of Ramirez, PSC Commissioners Charles Raymond Maxey, Ramon Fernandez, Celia Kiram and Arnold Agustin with PSC executive director lawyer Carlo Abarquez and Ronnel Abrenica, senior executive assistant of Ramirez and Philippine Institute of Sports (PIS) national training director Marc Velasco as well as POC's Tomas Carrasco, Jr. (Triathlon Association of the Philippines), David Carter (Philippine Judo Federation), Robert Mananquil (Billiards Sports Confederation of the Philippines), Joni Go (Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation) and Raymond Lee Reyes (Philippine Karatedo Federation).
Ramirez said the Task Force will continue its meeting Thursday to set criteria for the selection of the national teams in the coming KL SEA Games that will feature 38 sports. The country, however, might only compete in 37 sports as there is still no NSA for cricket.
Sports entered in the biennial Games are archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, billiards, boxing, bowling, cycling, equestrian, fencing, football, futsal, golf, gymnastics, hockey, figure skating, judo, karate, lawn bowls, Muay Thai, netball, pencaksilat, petanque, Rugby 7, sailing, sepaktakraw, shooting, squash, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball, waterski, weightlifting and wushu.
"We will discuss exposures of athletes for their training abroad but we will also set one-on-one assessment with the athletes. It is time to ask all NSAs, are we going to KL to bring honor to the country, if not they just have to stay behind. We will only send athletes who are capable of getting medals," Ramirez, who was joined by members of the Task Force SEA Games, said in a media interview.
He said they are not after fielding a big delegation to the Games, thus, if only 200 or 250 athletes will be qualified to compete based on their evaluation and screening, then they will have to live with that.
"Swimming must deliver a gold this time," Carrasco said.
Only 31 NSAs have submitted their list of entries as of Wednesday presstime as weightlifting, volleyball, badminton, boxing and golf, among others, have yet to submit theirs.
The Malaysia SEA Games Organizing Committee had set a deadline on December 23 for the submission of entries but Carrasco is positive they will be able to beat the deadline.
He, however, said no futsal team will be fielded in the Games next year.
Carrasco said that if the country will compete in at least 37 sports, there would be some 500 to 650 athletes who will comprise the delegation.
But Ramirez maintained the number will have to be streamlined based on the qualifications of the athletes.
"Every single participant titingnan kung sya ba talaga ang dapat na ipadala (are evaluated if he should be sent to the games)," the PSC chief said.
With barely eight months left before the Games, he admitted that it's a tall order to even take the number 5 spot.
"Singapore talaga kakalabanin natin. Aakyat ang ranking ng Malaysia being host. Indonesia lalaban din dahil sila rin sa Asian Games (Singapore is really our opponent. Malaysia's ranking will increase being the host. Indonesia will also compete in the Asian Games)," Carrasco said.
He also said Thailand and Vietnam will still be forces to reckon with.
"We could target No. 5 and fight it out. It would be hard to beat Singapore but we cannot afford to go down to No. 7," Ramirez added.
After today's meeting, Task Force Sea Games will again meet on January 6 and 7 in Tagaytay. The same group will handle preparations for the Asian Games, 2019 Philippine Sea Games and Tokyo 2020 Olympics.