Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hard facts in SEAG gold medal count

With less than nine months to go to the 26th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) to be held from Nov. 11-25, 2011 in Palembang, Indonesia, it might be good for us to objectively and clinically take stock of where we are and where we could possibly end using available hard data. These data were culled from the results of the Guangzhou Asian Games held in Nov. 2010 where all 11 Southeast Asian nations competed against 34 other countries that included Asian giants like China, Japan and the two Koreas.

The performance of the other ASEAN countries in Guangzhou should trigger warning signals since it would be a tremendous challenge to raise the performance of Filipino athletes with less than a year to go.

There are about 562 events in 44 sports in the 26th SEA Games. Examining the results of those sports that were in the Asian Games and where ASEAN countries won the gold, silver and bronze medals over their Asian counterparts may be instructive.

Indonesia, which will host the SEA Games for the fourth time, the last time in 1997, is expected to capture the over-all championship. As host, Indonesia was given the privilege of introducing or reintroducing sports where it presumably has the biggest chance of winning the gold medal. In the SEA Games Federation Council Meeting held in Hotel Mulia, Jakarta in May 2010, part of which I attended, Indonesia proposed to include, among others, paragliding, wall climbing, bridge and soft tennis.

In Guangzhou, the Indonesians won three gold medals in dragon boat while Myanmar and Thailand won three silvers and two bronzes, respectively. The Indons also won one gold medal in badminton and three bronzes, while Malaysia won two silvers.

Vietnam, which has continued to amaze Southeast Asia, may most likely end up in second place. It won a gold, silver and bronze in Asian Games karate. Vietnam also captured three silvers and four bronzes in wushu and four bronzes in taekwondo. The Vietnamese served notice of their ascension as an athletics power by capturing three silvers and two bronzes in China.

Thailand, armed with a booming economy despite the political instability it suffered last year, is expected to battle Vietnam for second spot. The Thais won four golds in sepak takraw. Thailand also did well in sailing (three golds and one silver), taekwondo (one gold, two silver and four bronzes) and athletics (one gold and one bronze).

The Thais could also be considered gold medal threats in dragon boat, wushu and cycling.

The Malaysians, who could land fourth overall, are expected to dominate squash: they won three golds and one bronze in Guangzhou. Malaysia also crowded the gold medalists in the diving competitions in Guangzhou by winning four silvers and five bronzes. 

The same situation occurred in sepak takraw (one silver) and sailing (two silvers and one bronze). Malaysia should also be considered the favorite in cycling after having won one gold and one silver in the Asian Games. Malaysia should also produce podium finishes in bowling having won two golds, one silver and one bronze in Guangzhou.

Painful as it may be, the Philippines (population 100 million) may end up contesting fifth place against tiny city-state Singapore (population three million) for fifth place overall. Singapore won one gold, three silvers and one bronze in bowling in China. Swimming has been a rich hunting ground for the Singaporeans in all past SEA Games. In China, Singapore netted one gold and one silver despite the Chinese, Japanese and Korean juggernaut.

The Philippines should win men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball handily to get four gold medals from these sports. Fencing, judo, wrestling, tennis, golf and chess should account for two each while billiard and boxing may bring home four gold medals each. Athletics, swimming and taekwondo should win five, four and two gold medals, respectively. The total of all these efforts is 35 gold medals. If we add another five for “unexpected” golds, our grand total will be 45, probably good for fifth overall. These additional 10 could come from sports like chess: our national team is probably the strongest in the region and should be the most productive if managed properly. The same thing goes for billiards where we have the world’s best in eight ball and nine ball. Retirements in swimming and bowling may however result in a lower gold medal count.

In the 1995 Chiang Mai Games, about 40 golds was good for third overall. In 1997 in Jakarta, 40 golds was good only for fourth.

Things have changed and we have to catch up lest we suffer the treadmill effect which is to run just to stay in place and not to fall off the machine.

 SPORTS FOR ALL By Philip Ella Juico (The Philippine Star)

No comments:

Post a Comment