POC deploys 814 SEAG bets

The Philippine Olympic Committee will be sending a total of 814 athletes to the 32nd Southeast Asian Games following the completion of two consultative meetings with various national sports associations on Monday.

POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino yesterday said they will be sending a “fighting team” that aims to come up with a strong finish in the prestigious biennial meet set from 5 to 16 May in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

Cambodia programmed 49 sports for the 11-nation conclave with the POC eyeing full participation in the competition that offers 608 gold medals – the most in Games history.

“It’s again a fighting team and the goal is to send the best full contingent as possible,” Tolentino said during the second consultative meeting with NSAs whose sports are on the Cambodia program.

The POC already met with representatives from combat sports or martial arts last week and concluded the meeting with their counterparts from ball games and other disciplines.

Baseball chief Chito Loyzaga, chef de mission to the Cambodia Games, was with his deputies Leonora Escollante (canoe kayak) and Paolo Tancontian (sambo) in the meetings held at the East Ocean Garden Restaurant in Pasay City.

The Philippines sent 656 athletes who competed in 38 sports in the Vietnam SEA Games last May, while the country had the privilege of fielding close to a thousand athletes when it hosted the 2019 edition where it emerged overall champion.

The entry by numbers per sports are: dancesports (12), Esports (45), fencing (24), fin swimming (9),

gymnastics (13), jet ski (8), obstacle sports (20), sailing (8), triathlon (10), athletics (47), aquatics (39), diving (2), bodybuilding (15), cycling (28), weightlifting (14), water polo (26), badminton (16), basketball (32), billiards (12), cricket (15), floorball (40), football (46), golf (7), hockey (24), petanque (16), soft tennis (12), sepak takraw (22), table tennis (10), tennis (12), volleyball (28), beach volleyball (16), arnis (12), boxing (11), jiujitsu (6), judo (10), karate (19), kickboxing (12), kun bokator (9), muay (14), pencak silat (17), taekwondo (25), vovinam (28), wrestling (18) and wushu (20).

Tancontian said they will do their best to give the athletes a chance to train and compete abroad before heading into the biennial meet.

“Preparation will be a key factor, especially if they want to train abroad. From what I’ve observed from the last SEA Games, athletes who have foreign coaches have improved a lot in their previous performances,” Tancontian told host Nikki Viola on The Athletes’ Tribune late Monday.

“This is also true for Filipino athletes training abroad. The athletes also need to be in their peak condition at least two months before the Games.”

Tancontian stressed that bulk of the medal harvest in the previous meet came from foreign-exposed athletes like Carlos Yulo of gymnastics, EJ Obiena of athletics, Carlo Biado of billiards, Chloe Isleta of swimming, and Sam Catantan of fencing shone bright, thanks to their exposure to world-class competitions.

“I am open for suggestions on how we should approach things. My objective is to help in bringing honor to the country and win a lot of gold medals,” Tancontian said.

“I’ll do my best to fulfill my duties.”

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