The 27th Southeast Asian Games has officially closed Sunday night with Philippines winning 29 gold, 34 silver and 38 bronze medals, enough only to place 7th – the worst-ever since the country first joined the games in 1977.
In the SEA Games history, Philippines has so far won the overall crown one time, in 2005 when the country hosted the game, and placed second two times in 1991 and 1983.
Philippines ranked 3rd in SEA Games five times (1977, 1981, 1985, 1987 and 1995), while the country placed 4th in the ranking four times in 1979, 1993, 1997 and 2003.
In 1989, 1999, 2001 and 2009, team Philippines placed 5th (four times); and the country placed 6th in 2007 and 2011 (two times).
This year is the first time ever that the country ranked 7th.
The Team Philippines that took part in the 1999 edition of the biennial meet in Brunei actually had less gold medals, 20, but still wound up fifth, as well as the 1989 contingent to Kuala Lumpur that won only 26.
This marks the first time the country formerly known as Burma finished inside the top three since 1979 and in the top five since 1983 in Singapore.
Thailand had the twin satisfaction of denying the hosts’ ultimate goal of taking the overall crown by emerging from the 11-team field with 107 gold medals.
The Filipinos’ 101-medal harvest though far surpassed expectations for a lean 208-athlete contingent handicapped by token participations in some events and non-participation in such medal-rich sports as petanque, vovinam, traditional boat race and chinlone and other events.
In all, the Filipinos took part in only 167 out of the 460 events in the meet that actually started December 4, but formally opened December 11.
“I’m proud of our athletes,” said PHL chief of mission Jeff Tamayo. “They showed heart despite the odds being stacked against us from the start and made us all proud.”