Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) President Philip Ella Juico said that to win 10 to 11 gold medals in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is his biggest wish for the New Year.
“That’s in my wish list, winning 10 to 11 gold medals in the SEA Games,” Juico told reporters at the PATAFA office on Thursday. “It’s not a must but the more [medals]you have, the happier the Filipino nation is, and the more you are able to use the money of the government wisely.”
Juico, who succeeded Go Teng Kok as athletics chief last year added that there are 19 priority athletes being pre-pared for the biennial meet among them Singapore Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Eric Shaun Cray.
Cray won the men’s 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles, while Kayla Richardson, 17, ruled the women’s 100-meter. Caleb Stuart won the men’s hammer throw while Christopher Ulboc Jr. dominated the 3000-meter steeplechase.
Despite their previous accomplishments, Juico explained that the aforementioned athletes still need to prove their worth before they can compete in the 29th SEA Games slated on August 19 to 31. “They still need to join the up-coming national open next year and prove their worth. That list might change,” said Juico.
The National Open Invitational Athletics Championship will be held from March 30 to April 2 in Isabela while the Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championship was set March 27 to 28, also in Isabela.
Juico said the selected athletes would be trained abroad to boost their chance of winning in the SEA Games.
Besides Cray, Richardson, Stuart and Ulboc, the other priority athletes are three-time Olympian Marestella Torres-Sunang, EJ Obiena, Marco Vilog, Aries Toledo, Edgardo Alejan, Jessica Barnard, Harry Diones, Trenten Berram, Kyla Richardson, Jessica Barnard, Zion Corrales, Mervin Guarte, Joan Caido, Ryan Bigyan, and Raymond Alferos.
“We have 60 athletes in our list. From there, we will choose probably 17 for the specialized training and the funding will come from private sectors and Ayala Corporation. We’ll have a special program,” said Juico, also a former Phil-ippine Sports Commission chairman.
Juico predicts that the glorious years of Philippine athletics would soon return.
“That’s possible we have 100 million Filipinos here in the country. It is a long process, but bringing back our glorious years in athletics is possible.”
JOSEF T. RAMOS