KUALA LUMPUR: Skater Kathryn Magno tried to deliver her best parting shot, but her effort was still not enough to bail the heavily battered Philippine delegation out of its worst Southeast Asian Games finish in the past 18 years.
Magno wrapped up the country’s participation with a fourth-place finish in the women’s 1000-meter speed skating event Wednesday at the Empire City Ice Arena here.
The 23-year-old San Jose, California native, who failed to qualify in the women’s 500-meter race last Tuesday, was eased out of a podium finish after placing fourth with a clocking one minute and 51.89 seconds.
Filipino winter sports campaigners will go home with one gold, silver and bronze in the events that were making their SEA Games debut.
The Philippine men’s ice hockey team was the toast of the contingent, completing a four-game sweep of its tournament to clinch a historic gold and will likely defend it crown when the Philippine hosts the 30th edition of the SEA Games two years from now.
Sochi Winter Games Olympian Michael Martinez secured the silver medal in men’s individual figure skating while Alyson Kirstie Perticheto took the bronze on the distaff side.
Magno’s performance and the silver-medal finish of the national squads in squash and sepak takraw Tuesday night perfectly reflect the Philippines’ entire two-week campaign in this prestigious biennial conclave.
Save for some runaway victors like Olympians Eric Cray and Mary Joy Tabal, Gilas Pilipinas, Kim Mangrobang and Nikko Huelgas, the country’s campaign was a major disappointment as the 24-gold medal finish marks its worst production since hauling 20 mints in the Brunei edition of the SEA Games in 1999.
But contrary to the Brunei Games, where only 233 gold medals were at stake, this year’s edition in Kuala Lumpur staked a total of 404 gold medals with more than one-fourth of which was cornered by the host country.
Overall, the Malaysians grabbed 145 gold, 92 silver and 86 bronze medals while Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia finished in the second, third, fourth and fifth spot with 72, 58, 57 and 38 gold medals, respectively.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco said the heart-breaking campaign in Kuala Lumpur should be left behind and, instead, urged everybody—including his critics—to rally behind the athletes as they brace for the country’s hosting of the Games in 2019.
“All of us, including the critics, should rally behind the 2019 Philippine hosting and support the athletes in any way we can,” said Cojuangco, who bickered with chief of mission Cynthia Carrion after the POC disapproved her prepared program for the closing ceremonies.
He said that the 20-minute cultural presentation prepared by a noted organizer and funded by the Department of Tourism wouldn’t matter as the Malaysian Southeast Asian Organizers Committee (MASOC) already finalized the program long before the Games started as it also coincided with the Malaysia’s Independence Day celebration.
“How could be insist with the host country and the MASOC to present a 20-minute presentation when the closing program has been finalized long before the Games started and coincided with the Independence Day celebration of Malaysia?”
“And the CDM, who attended the CDM meetings before and during the Games could not even show the POC board a program that included a Philippine cultural show,” said Cojuangco.