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Improving our record in sports competitions

OUR athletes returned from the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday where they won 24 gold, 33 silver, and 64 bronze medals.

Even before the opening ceremony last August 19, a Cebu lass won the women’s marathon, followed two days later by both gold and silver medals in the men’s and women’s triathlon. Our basketball team swept all opposition in this most popular game in the country. We had a surprise gold in ice hockey, a game we had not played before in any international competition.

More gold medals were won in the succeeding days by our athletes in athletics, gymnastics, wushu, fencing, boxing, lawn balls, billiards, equestrian, taekwondo, judo, and pencak silat.

Other silver medals came from archery, athletics, gymnastics, wushu, fencing, sepak takraw, boxing, lawn balls, karate, swimming, squash, bowling, billiards, tennis, equestrian, taekwondo, ice skating, and sailing.

Bronze medals came from archery, athletics, gymnastics, fencing, sepak takraw, boxing, lawn balls, golf, shooting, karate, table tennis, swimming, squash, bowling, billiards, tennis, taekwondo, cycling, judo, waterskiing, ice skating, sailing, pencak silat, and muay thai.

All these individual victories merit our commendation and congratulations. However, our Philippine standing of 24 golds, 33 silvers, and 64 bronzes, put us only in sixth place in the 11-nation competition behind Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia. Champion Malaysia had 145 golds, 92 silvers, and 86 bronzes.

The Southeast Asian Games is the least competitive among the international multi-event sports competitions in the world. We will next send our athletes to the 46-nation Asian Games where we will face athletes from formidable sports nations like China, Japan, South Korea, and Iran. Then we join the 207-nation Olympic Games usually dominated by the United States, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

We have never won a gold medal in the Olympics. The best we have won are silver medals in boxing. But we continue to hope for that elusive gold, perhaps by our boxers.

We must, however, do much more than hope. We must see how other nations are undertaking their sports programs, how they are discovering young potential athletes and training them for international competition. We have a Philippine Sports Commission with government funding as well as an independent Philippine Olympic Committee but it is said they do not work well together.

They might want to review their operations and see how they can coordinate their programs in the interest of developing Philippine sports and improving our sorry record in international sports competitions.

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