Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Ricky Vargas said that the country needs to do more after ranking 19th among the 45 nations competing at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
The delegation of the Philippines in the continental sports meet won a total of 21 medals: four gold medals, two silver medals, and 15 bronze medals, to improve from their 22nd place at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
“I realized that despite the improved performance, there are so many things that we still need to do,” Vargas said on Sunday, September 2, hours before the closing ceremony of this year’s Asian Games.
The POC official said that, while the country’s campaign in the 2018 Asian Games can be considered a success, the delegates failed to reach the goal of securing at least 15th place in the multi-sports tournament.
“By all indications, the 18th Asian Games was a success for the Philippines—total medal count improved, gold count quadrupled,” Vargas said. “The ranking went up from 22nd to 19th, although short of the goal of 15th, but still acceptable.”
Furthermore, Vargas also believes that it will be ‘difficult’ for the Philippine team to top the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games, also known as SEA Games, that will happen in the country.
“To aim for No. 1 is very difficult, but to aim for the top three is possible – it depends on how we manage the events and the sports,” Vargas said.
“Look at Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore they’re all above us in the medal tally of the Asian Games. And look at their silvers and bronzes, they’re golds in the SEA Games,” Vargas added.
During the previous six editions of the Asian Games, the Philippines has ranked in either fifth, sixth, or seventh place in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Vargas stressed the importance of boosting the grassroots development and the talent identification in the Philippines, along with cooperation among the national sports associations (NSAs) and the Philippines Sports Commission (PSC).
“NSAs need to clean up their act. We cannot allow bickering and power struggles to weigh down our athletes’ efforts. They must foster inclusivity, transparency and accountability,” Vargas said.
“Cooperation with the PSC is vital — this is a no brainer. Coaches’ development should be given impetus. We need to look at improving in sports where we can be competitive in.”
“In the end, it’s all about the athlete. Train them well, provide for their needs, keep them motivated, inspired and focused — and shield them from politics. They can and will deliver,” Vargas added.
During the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Asian Games, Filipina skater Margielyn Didal, who won a gold medal in her event, carried the Philippine flag.
Other Filipina gold medalists in multi-sports event include weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, golfer Yuka Saso, and the Philippine national women’s golf team composed of Saso, bronze medalist Bianca Pagdanganan, and Lois Kaye Go.