Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chris Tiu : "absurd" Philippine SEA Games campaign

Source : Musong R. Castillo Philippine Daily Inquirer

JAKARTA—There were several close shaves and moments of glory, and Philippine sports leaders can argue all they want that some silver medals should have been golds had it gotten a break here or there.

But overall, disappointment clearly attended the country’s drive in the 26th Southeast Asian Games.

The campaign was so disappointing, in fact, that even a Filipino athlete who went home with a gold medal in basketball still can’t accept the poor state of sports in the country now.

“If we lose to Thailand, to Indonesia, that would be OK for me,” basketball star Chris Tiu told the Inquirer Tuesday before joining the rest of the victorious Philippine quintet on the way home.

“But to lose to Singapore? That’s absurd.”

The Philippines capped its worst-ever SEA Games stint with just 36 gold medals, three short of the number it won two years ago in winding up fifth overall in Vientiane, Laos. But there were only 25 events that year and thus a fewer number of athletes were sent.

The 512-strong Philippine delegation fell short of their two targets in these Games: To improve on that fifth-place finish and to win more medals. Meeting either one would have been a success.

“I have nothing against the Singaporeans, but look at them, they’re very few, the base for selecting the athletes is so small,” Tiu said. “And when you look at them, they’re not even athletic.”

Tiu has a beef there.

Talents have been scarce in coming for the Philippines. Clear case in point: After Miguel Molina, a former Most Outstanding Athlete in the SEA Games, retired a few months go, swimming laid a big fat egg in Palembang.

Taekwondo and boxing produced the most number of gold medals in Indonesia with four each.

“We’re better than them [Singaporeans],” said Tiu. “We’re better than where we are.”

Bickering among sports leaders and national sports associations has practically slowed the discovery and development of new talents.

Athletics, the country’s best performer in past SEA Games, produced just two gold medals courtesy of old faces who have dominated in the SEA Games.

At least, Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association president Go Teng Kok had the guts to pin the blame on himself.

The Philippines started these Games third all-time in total of medals won, behind the overall champion Indonesians and the Thais. At the rate the country’s progress in sports is going, though, it wouldn’t be long before Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia catch up.

If that happens, the barnacles of disaster clinging to Philippine sports would be tough to get rid of.

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