(Agence France Presse) — The Philippines is targeting 50 gold medals at the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia, one of their biggest tallies on foreign soil, the head of the country’s delegation said Friday.
Chef de mission Cynthia Carrion-Norton said 50 was a “reasonable” target based on estimates by the national commissions of each sport which will compete from next week in Kuala Lumpur.
“The president of each sports commission promised me and it was (a total of) 63 but I don’t expect that. I think aiming for 50 is more reasonable,” she told AFP.
Carrion-Norton said the commissions were told to be realistic in giving their targets, recalling: “I said if you think you can’t do it, lower (the target).”
A haul of 50 gold medals would be the best showing since the Philippines’ record high of 113 when it hosted the regional multi-sport event in 2005, Carrion-Norton said.
But since then, the Philippines’ successes have dwindled, with only 29 golds in 2015. They won 57 golds in Singapore in 1993, and 59 in Jakarta in 1987.
Carrion-Norton said the Philippines is expecting five golds in both wushu and archery, and four each from lawn bowls and taekwondo.
In contrast, Manila isn’t expecting any wins in swimming or diving, or in sports like field hockey and netball which are not widely played in the country, Carrion-Norton said.
She complained that sports where the Philippines is strong, like boxing, had had their events cut down — to six boxing golds, from 11 in 2015 — or in the case of softball, were eliminated entirely.
“They took out weightlifting for women which we would win with Hidilyn Diaz,” she added, referring to the Philippines’ 2016 Olympic silver-medalist.
The Philippines is sending a team of 494 athletes. But Carrion-Norton conceded that predicting gold medals could be difficult, citing the example of a potential figure skating gold-medalist who was recently injured.