MANILA – With the amount of government support extended to the athletes, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez said on Thursday he would not be surprised if the country will get the top three finish in the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian Games.
“I will not be surprised because we spent more than PHP1 billion for the foreign exposures,” Ramirez said in a media interview.
Ramirez is also the chef de mission (CDM) of the Philippine team to the biennial meet which the Philippines will host for the fourth time from Nov. 30 to Dec. 30.
“We at the CDM, our focus are the athletes. Our deputy CDM have been going around, meeting coaches and athletes,” he said.
He said the recent string of victories the Filipino athletes have achieved abroad is another “good sign” that the Philippines is ready to improve its dismal sixth place finish in Kuala Lumpur SEA Games two years go.
“And we are also the host country. So there is a big chance,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said the national sports association (NSA) officials told him that the Philippines is capable of winning 274 gold medals.
“The PSC is not supposed to predict. It is the job of the NSAs but during our NSA executives meeting, 45 of the 56 sports, they commit 274 gold medals,” he said.
“That’s their projection. Ako, naniniwala ako doon (I believe them). A high of those numbers,” he added.
The Philippines won its first overall title with 113 gold medals when it hosted SEA Games in 2005 but has since finished no better than fifth place.
The country skidded to sixth spot with 41 gold medals in 2007, to fifth with 38 in 2009, to sixth with 37 in 2011, to seventh with 29 in 2013, to sixth with 29 in 2015, and to sixth place with worst output of 23 gold medals in 2017.
This year, Ramirez said the Philippines will be represented by 1,085 athletes and 335 coaches and officials.
The 2019 SEA Games is considered as the largest ever with total of 530 gold medals at stake in 56 sports.
At least 10,000 athletes and officials from 11 members of the SEA Games will participate in the 12-day sports event to be held at the newly-constructed New Clark Sports Village in Capas, Tarlac; Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Pampanga, and in Metro Manila at the newly-renovated Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and nearby provinces.
The SEA Games members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor, and Vietnam. (PNA)