The Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) is confident of clinching eight gold medals in the coming 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, even gunning for 12 gold medals— which would eclipsethe best ever finish by a Philippine athletics team at the SEA Games.
“We’re very optimistic. We expect to win at least eight golds, and even 12, to surpass the best gold medal haul in the SEA Games (by an athletics team), which happened way back 1983. We’re also confident that we have the numbers to have 1, 2 finishes in some events,” said PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico. “But we must be heroes in delivery, and not just in the promise. We’re claiming eight golds, with 12 as our stretch target.”
According to him, the 36-person athletics national team’s best chances to clinch gold medals are in decathlon, men’s 4×400-meter relay, men’s 400-meter low hurdles, men’s steeplechase, men’s 1,500-meter run, men’s long jump, men’s shot put, men’s hammer throw, men’s pole vault, and men’s 400-meter run.
Juico’s confidence stems from the athletes’ excellent training in recent months, singling out the support coming from the private sector in making this possible.
“We want to give credit to the two US coaches referred to us by (sports benefactor) James Lafferty. Dick Beardsley and Bill Schnier gave tremendous help to our national team coaches on improving their coaching techniques, and to our athletes on boosting their confidence,” he said.
Beardsley, a long-distance runner best known for his second place finish in the historic 1982 Boston Marathon, crafted a very detailed and specific training program for marathon bets Mary Joy Tabal, Rafael Poliquit, and men’s marathon national record holder Eduardo Buenavista. Juico related that Beardsley was also helping the marathoners secure a corporate sponsorship from New Balance, which also provides support for Beardsley.
Schnier, University of Cincinnati’s athletics head coach for 33 years, spent three weeks with the national athletes and coaches, giving pointers on training techniques and helping boost morale. He’s also helping PATAFA with the framework for a master plan for development of athletes and coaches, which would cover everything from the development of the coaching program to athletes’ training to image building.
The Athletics team leaves for the Singapore SEA Games on June 3.