Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino has set a simple target for Team Philippines in the 19th Asian Games in September.
“Just to surpass our medal output in the previous Asian Games would be quite an achievement,’’ said Tolentino on Tuesday at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum as the POC chief bared that more than 400 bets from 40 sports will be sent to battle the continent’s best in Hangzhou, China.
“It will be extremely hard to go up the rankings,’’ said Tolentino, referring to an improvement from the country’s 19th place finish in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2018 where Yuka Saso led a four-gold assault of the Filipinos by winning the women’s individual and leading her team to the title.
Saso, for one, will not be around anymore after the prodigious talent who grew up in Bulacan took on Japanese citizenship after the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Other gold winner in Indonesia were skateboarding’s Margielyn Didal and weightlifting’s Hidilyn Diaz. Filipino athletes likewise collected two silvers courtesy of boxer Rogen Ladon and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, and 15 bronzes.
EJ Obiena, Caloy Yulo, Diaz, Didal and the country’s seasoned boxers led by Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam are expected to deliver in China, and if they all do, could easily erase that four-gold haul in Indonesia.
The POC has set a criteria for the Asian Games where the gold and silver medalists in the recent 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia have been assured of slots, explaining the bloated number of athletes.
Team Philippines finished fifth overall in the recent SEA Games with 58 gold, 85 silver and 117 bronze medals.
Team sports like basketball, football, volleyball, rugby sevens, softball and baseball have inflated the list.
China, Japan, Korea, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, among others, are still expected to crowd each other for the overall championship together with some middle eastern nations and neighbors. INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.