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POC hopes to send 20 bets in Tokyo Games

By Nick Giongco, with a report from Waylon Galvez

Landing 15th overall–from the previous 22nd the last time in Incheon – is the target of the new leadership of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) when the country campaigns in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

POC president Ricky Vargas, presiding over his first General Assembly yesterday at the Meralco headquarters in Pasig City, said taking 15th spot in the leaderboard “can be done.”

If the Philippines manages to place 15th, Vargas noted that about five gold medals would likely translate to that finish.

“Our goal is modest. We just have to improve,” said Vargas, who was elected as new POC president last Feb. 23.

To make that happen, the Philippines has to win big in bowling, boxing, jujitsu, kurash, judo, bridge, taekwondo and dragonboat, noted Vargas.

He is also committed to give P2 million to gold medal, P500,000 to silver medal and P300,000 to bronze medal winners.

While focus is on these choice sports, Vargas insists that several other sports have what it takes to steal the thunder, stressing that fencing, athletics, golf, jet ski, triathlon, gymnastics and weightlifting, assuming Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz competes, can rise to the occasion.

So far, the POC is looking at sending more than 200 athletes to the Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 Asiad that will be co-hosted by the capital city of Jakarta and Palembang.

Vargas also took note of the country’s staging of the 2019 SEAG and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

“In the SEAG, we would like to finish in the top three while we would like to send at least 20 athletes to Tokyo,” said Vargas.

After winning the overall crown for the first time in 2005 when it was the host, the Philippines’ performance stagnated in the next editions when it once finished a worst-ever seventh overall in Myanmar.

Since 2005, the country has either placed fifth or sixth and Vargas swears it is high time that has to stop.

Seeing more Olympic qualifiers in Rio is also tops in his mind.

“In Rio we only have 13 (athletes) and we would like to see 20 in Tokyo,” said Vargas.