MANILA – As the 2019 Southeast Asian Games finally came to a close on Wednesday, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William Ramirez lauded the Filipino athletes for their hard work and determination to regain the Games supremacy.
Ramirez made the remark after the Philippines pulled out its best performance in the 30th SEA Games, garnering a record 149 golds, 117 silvers and 121 bronzes in 530 events of the 56 sports played throughout the 10-day competitions of the 11-nation biennial multi-sports meet.
“Our athletes gave their all and they deserve all the respect and care that we can give them, as kababayans (countrymen) and as a nation. You all made us proud. Salamat sa inyong sakripisyo, tiyaga at pagpupursigi (Thank you for your sacrifices, patience and determination),” the PSC chief said.
“All your hard work and achievement produced more than just medals. It lifted the spirit of a nation hungry for inspiration and hope. It awakened the spirit of patriotism in each of us,” he added.
Meanwhile, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said the Philippines’ second overall title showed that the Filipino athletes can give their best “with proper support and encouragement”.
“I am proud that they proved that my faith in them was well-placed. But this is just the beginning. I see better things ahead for Philippine sports,” Tolentino said in separate statement.
He said the POC will partner with both government and private sectors to ensure that the country’s sustainable sports programs.
During the closing ceremony at the newly-built New Clark City Athletics Stadium, Ramirez and Tolentino joined Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Philippine Southeast Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) chairman Alan Peter Cayetano in hoisting the overall championship trophy to the delight the huge crowd and applause from athletes of the 11 participating countries.
Medialdea then officially declared the 30th edition of the SEA Games closed as the Philippine sports officials handed the Games flag to their counterparts from Vietnam which will host the 2021 biennial meet.
Cayetano congratulated all the athletes including the Filipino athletes who duplicated the Philippines’ first overall title in 2005 with 112 golds, 85 silvers and 93 bronzes.
Arnis and dancesports started the Philippines’ campaign on the high note right from the opening day of competition, taking early lead in the medal standing and was never challenged as wushu, taekwondo, athletics, obstacle course race and skateboarding delivered the wins that sustained the host country’s drive for overall title.
Vietnam, led by the Games’ best female athlete Thi Anh Vien Nguyen, rallied in the final three days of action to take second with 98 golds on top of 85 silvers and 105 bronzes while Thailand, seven-time overall champion, settled for third spot with 92 gold, 103 silver and 123 bronze medals.
Indonesia, which ruled the meet 10 times, failed to get the second-place target and went home with 72-84-111 medal tally followed by Malaysia and Singapore with 55-58-71 and 53-46-68 medal output, respectively.
Timor Leste was the only nation which failed to win gold while Myanmar and Cambodia have four each and Brunei with two and Laos has one gold.
Nguyen bagged her third best female athlete award after fishing out six golds and two silvers while another swimmer Zheng Wen cornered the best male athlete honor for also winning six golds and two silvers for Singapore which ruled the swimming with 23 golds, 10 silvers and 4 bronzes.
Filipino surfer Roger Casugay was given “Fair Play Athlete” citation for rescuing an Indonesian competitor, Arip Nurhidayat who broke his ankle leash and was swept by giant waves during the preliminaries.
Casugay, who eventually won the gold medal, earned praises from netizens as well as from no less than Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
President Rodrigo Duterte also met with Casugay and fellow local surfers in Malacañang on Tuesday, according to the photos released by the Palace to the media on Wednesday.
The top local athletes lived up to expectations with world gymnast champion Carlos Yulo snatching two golds and five silvers while Olympian weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz pulled out a golden performance.
Tokyo Olympic-bound EJ Obiena joined the 31 athletes who came out with record-breaking performances as the son of former national athlete Emerson won the pole vault gold.
James Deiparine awarded the Philippines its first gold medal in swimming in 10 years after ruling the 100-meter breaststroke in record fashion. Unfortunately, it was the only swimming gold for the host country.
Asian skateboarding gold medalist Margielyn Didal won not one but two golds. (PNA)