SEA Games: Did the Philippines do better?

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By Paolo del Rosario/CNN Philippines – With the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games done and dusted, much has been said about the delegation that the Philippines sent out.

There was a total of 402 gold medals to play for in the 2015 edition of the SEA Games in Singapore.

Before the games, chef-de-mission of the Philippine contingent, Julian Camacho, said that he was expecting an estimate of 45 to 50 gold medals for the Filipinos.

At 466, the number of athletes sent by the Philippines in 2015 doubled the 210 sent to the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar.

Camacho also added that the goal was to exceed the 41 gold medals earned by the country in the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand.

A clear shift in strategy from the Philippine committee.

But then reality struck.

The Philippines picked up 29 gold, 36 silver, and 66 bronze medals on the way to a sixth place finish in the 2015 edition of the SEA Games.

This result sees the Philippines equal their gold medal tally in 2013, but this turned out to be enough to improve on the seventh place finish in the previous games to earn the sixth place spot.

With 466 Filipino athletes accumulating only 29 gold medals, the Philippines posted a paltry ratio of 6.22 when comparing the amount of gold medals won and number of athletes in the delegation.

This is the lowest ratio since 2007, when the Philippines sent 620 competitors and only won 41 gold medals for a ratio of 6.61.

On a decline

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ Rex Remitio, veteran Filipino sports analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz gave his opinion on the country’s latest SEA Games outings.

“Obviously it’s on a decline. The figures speak for themselves,” said Nathanielsz. “If you will look at the history of the Philippines, we’re normally at the top. In 70s, early 80s, we were 1, 2, or 3, we were up there.”

Remitio also had the chance to interview former first vice president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Manny Lopez, says that a change of leadership is needed.

“When your leaders start to be content with being number six out of 11, on the lowest kind of competition, a peninsular competition like the Southeast Asian Games, 11 nations, then that’s a very sad, sad sight to see,” said Lopez.

The lowest point of Filipino sports during the SEA Games is perhaps the now viral performance of the Filipino diving team, who made a splash on the Internet for all the wrong reasons.

“Tragedy,” said Nathanielsz. “This was an unmitigated tragedy.”

Lopez echoed Nathanielsz sentiments.

“It is so sad to hear and see the athletes being ridiculed in social network,” said Lopez. “Hindi po kasalanan ng mga atleta yun, kasalanan ng leader yun and ng coach.”

Lopez also bemoaned the fall of the Philippines throughout the years as a sporting nation.

“We were once there,” said Lopez. “We loved Philippine sports but as long as these people are there, you can wish your hopes goodbye.”

But even with all the politics in sports, if you look at just the athletes representing the Philippines, Nathanielsz believes that the Filipino athletes had and still have a special talent.

“Filipinos are naturally gifted athletes, naturally gifted,” said Nathanielsz. “Look at the boxers, look at the tennis players, look at the track and field athletes in the past.”

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