Of gold medals and blunders
By NIMROD NL QUIÑONES
The just-concluded Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar has exposed many things wrong with the biennial sports meet.
First and most obvious is how the host countries are allowed to pick what sports would be included in the program, which badly affects the medal chances of other participants. This explains why countries, once regarded as minnows like host Myanmar, suddenly finish at the top.
Myanmar was second overall with 86 gold medals, 62 silver and 85 bronze medals, which is its best-finish ever in the meet.
In 1981 when the Philippines hosted the SEA Games for the first time, the country finished third out of seven participating countries.
When we hosted the event again in 1991, we missed out on finishing first overall by one gold medal. Indonesia had 91 while we had 91.
The third time we hosted the SEA Games was in 2005, where Cebu also hosted a few events. That year, the Philippines won the overall title with a haul of 113 gold medals. Second placed Thailand only managed 87 gold medals.
Arnis was included in the program, but there were many other events when the Philippines hosted the SEA Games giving us the edge in the medal tally.
In Myanmar, the host country scrapped gymnastics, lawn tennis and bowling, which are played in the Olympics. Instead, indigenous sports like vovinam, kempo, and chinlone were played.
Vovinam is a Vietnamese martial art that is based on the principle of hard and soft. Kempo is another martial art of Japanese origin. Chinlone is a traditional sport of Burma (Myanmar) which combines sport and dance.
We have dancesport, but this discipline is well-regulated around the world and in 2005, was also included in the SEA Games program here.
In order for the Southeast Asians to really become world beaters, there is a need to standardize the events in the SEA Games. Maybe, the organizing body can allow a host country to add certain events, but the medals won should not be counted in the total as they would be deemed as demonstration sports, just like in the Olympics.
In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, judo was introduced as a demonstration sport. It was not included in the 1968 Mexico Olympics, but has since been part of the Olympics since the 1972 Munich Games.
The SEA Games can follow this format and this should allow countries that are developing athletes for the Olympics a good venue to hone its young talents.
While I feel sad that the Philippines had its worst finish in the SEA Games in Myanmar at 7th overall, I am happy that judo produced gold medals.
The gold medal won by a judoka that I am most happy of is that of Cebu-born Filipina-Japanese Kiyomi Watanabe.
Kiyomi’s mother, Irene Sarausad-Watanabe, was once a student of my mother in Toledo City.
Irene has been constantly updating me of the events her daughter is taking part in Japan and I am looking forward to the day when the young girl would be competing in the Olympics.
While we salvaged 29 gold medals, 34 silver and 38 bronze for a total of 101 medals, it seems that the Philippines also blundered in terms of sending the athletes, who are gold potentials.
This is a recurring problem, but if the SEA Games organizers would just come up with a standard for events to be held, I’m sure this would help our sports leaders think better.
MILESTONES: Happy birthday to Dennis Bumanglag and Reve Abelarde.
Belated greetings go to Michelle Ysmael-Ora and nestor Lumapas, who turned a year older yesterday.
Congratulations to Police Chief Supt. Augusto Morales Marquez, Jr., who recently received his star. General MarQ, as we now address him, is an upperclassman, who helped many former cadets like me get back on our feet.
More power to all of you!
Rest Easy, Rico
My sporting buddy
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