The fourth-place performance in the recent 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam was impressive in itself considering the pandemic situation everyone faced the past years.
But expect the Filipinos to return with a vengeance as they set their sights on a brighter, better and bigger finish in next year’s edition in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The Philippines concluded their Hanoi participation with 52 gold, 70 silver and 104 bronze medals – a far cry from host Vietnam which grabbed the overall championship with a massive haul of 205 gold, 125 silver and 116 bronze medals.
Thailand was at distant second (92-103-136) and Indonesia third (69-91-81).
Still, it was the best performance for the PH team since the 2003 edition also in Vietnam and excluding the two overall championships when the country hosted in 2005 and 2019.
In previous editions where the Philippines was not host, the country could only manage fifth to sixth places, even going as low as seventh in the 2013 Myanmar edition by winning only 29 gold, 35 silver and 37 bronze medals in 34 sports.
Prior to hosting in 2019, the Philippines finished sixth in the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with only 23 golds, 34 silvers and 63 bronzes from 38 sports.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino hopes to see more from the athletes in a year’s time when the 32nd edition fires off on May 5 to 17, 2023 – the first time that Cambodia is hosting the biennial meet.
Forty sports are initially lined up for the Games pending changes in the following months.
Meanwhile, PH team’s chief of mission Ramon Fernandez stayed behind to represent the Philippine delegation in the closing rites of the 31st SEAG Monday night.
With most of PH team members bound for or already at home, Fernandez was to be joined by his deputies Carl Sambrano and Pearl Managuelod of rollersports and muay thai, respectively, at the affair to be closed by Vietnam Sports, Culture and Tourism Minister Nguyen Van Hung.
Also joining the event was Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, who was to extinguish the Games Flame, as the curtain wrung down on the 31st edition of the biennial sports showcase held in the Vietnamese capital and neighboring provinces.
The Southeast Asian Games Federation flag will likewise be lowered and handed over to the representative of Cambodia as the next host.
The regional meet was supposed to be held last November but was delayed for six months due to the spike in COVID-19 cases that swept the region.