The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) brushed off claims by a ranking Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) official that the Philippines will not achieve its target of a fourth place finish in next year’s Singapore Southeast Asian Games.
PSC chairman Richie Garcia, whose agency funds the training and actual participation of Filipino athletes, came out smoking yesterday after reading about swimming big boss Mark Joseph’s poor prognosis for the country during the June 5 to 16 sportsfest.
Joseph said there is not enough time for sports officials to come up with a delegation that can finish third or even fourth place in the SEAG, a claim Garcia said might only applies to Joseph’s sport.
“It’s not true that we are running late in our training for Singapore,” said Garcia. “The athletes have been preparing the past few years. They are training continuously.”
Garcia said Joseph could be referring to swimming as one NSA that will perform poorly in Singapore “because he doesn’t have a nationwide program” that is in place.
“That’s not the case with the majority of the NSAs. Our athletes have been training almost non-stop. They are only given a short break after each tournament and they return to training,” Garcia said.
The PSC and POC are aiming high in Singapore following a spate of failed bids to perform creditably the last four editions of the biennial SEAG.
After winning the overall crown for the first time when it was the host in 2005, the Philippines dropped to fifth in 2007 (Thailand), sixth in 2009 (Laos) and fifth again in 2011 (Indonesia).
In 2013 in Myanmar, the Philippines sank to its lowest ever, seventh place, a position the PSC and POC would never want to be in again.
Garcia said Joseph could have grown frustrated over the removal of swimming from the list of priority sports as it hasn’t been living up to its promise.
Swimming, a source of pride for the country not only in the SEAG but even in the Asian Games in the not-so-distant past, can’t even produce local talents, noted Garcia.
Not only that.
Garcia said Joseph no longer commands respect after he allowed the gold medal of Jasmine Alkhaldi taken away by Myanmar organizers in 2013 owing to a technicality.
“He didn’t fight for her,” said Garcia, referring to the sad incident when Alkhaldi was forced to engage in a re-swim due to an alleged false start. Alkhaldi settled for silver.
“Personally, we are not talking about eight months because the athletes are always on the go,” said chief of mission to Singapore Julian Camacho, stressing that the SEAG is also a part of training for other events like the Asian Games and the Olympics.
Source : Manila Bulletin