By Adrian Stewart Co
Following their overall championship in the 30th edition of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games here, Filipino athletes are targeting at least a top three finish in the 2021 edition in Vietnam slated from November 21 to December 2, 2021.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said that finishing within the top three in the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi is a modest goal since a back-to-back overall title is hard.
“Well, talagang mahirap po ‘yan, mga kasama, mahirap pong kunin ‘yan. Subalit inaasam po natin na, sana, top 3,” Tolentino said during an appearance on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
According to Tolentino, just like what the country did in 2019, he expects Vietnam to build on their strong performance in 2019 and be even better when they host the SEA Games in November.
“Nakapaghanda na po ang Vietnam diyan, tulad ng ginawa natin before,” Tolentino said.
Tolentino, also the representative of the eighth district of Cavite, further admits that Filipino athletes have not trained for the SEA Games due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most national team athletes were inactive for the bulk of 2020, settling for virtual training while their competitions were postponed or cancelled entirely. A few who were abroad – particularly Olympic-bound athletes Caloy Yulo and EJ Obiena – kept training, but also had less than ideal schedules.
The national boxing, taekwondo, and karate teams are set to hold a training camp in a bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna starting this weekend, but other teams are still waiting for the go-signal for them to begin training in person again.
“Iilan pa lang ang pinayagan,” said Tolentino. “Ang mga nag-i-start pa lang ‘yung mga nasa abroad, na qualified sa Tokyo. And ang pinayagan pa lang ‘yung qualifying for Tokyo.”
“Hindi pa natin dini-discuss ‘yung all teams, all delegates going to Southeast Asian Games. Yes, we still have the time, but ‘yung mga kalaban natin, katunggali natin sa ibang bansa, I think nag-i-start na sila,” he added./ASC, WDJ