Officials aim to boost Pinoy hopes in 2021

    WITH Vietnam poised to slash the number of disciplines when it hosts the 31st Southeast Asian Games in 2021, Philippine Olympic Committee and Rep. Bambol Tolentino and arnis chief Sen. Miguel Zubiri will leave after Christmas Day next week for Hanoi to lobby for the inclusion of some of the sports that helped the country regain the SEA Games overall crown just over a week ago.

    “Definitely, we won’t have the same number of (56) sports as before but we hope na hindi naman tayong sobra bumaba, siyempre gusto rin nila na manalo ng overall (title), “ Tolentino said.

    Pinoy campaigners won 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals as the country won its second overall crown in 14 years.

    “Yes, I will be joining president Bambol because we want arnis to remain in the SEA Games,” said Zubiri, the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation president, whose wards garnered 14 of the 20 mints in the discipline’s golden return to the Games after a 14-year absence.

    Vietnamese arnis bets bagged four gold medals in three days of action at the Angeles University Foundation gymnasium in Mabalacat, Pampanga, a performance that may convince the next hosts to keep the Filipino ethnic sport in the biennial meet.

    Tolentino said another sport that he hopes would be retained is dancesport, which delivered 10 mints and, together with arnis, served as the launching pad for the country’s overall drive in the first full day of action in the 11-nation games.

    He said that Vietnam sports officials intend to cut down the calendar of disciplines to 36 to 40, most likely stacking it with sports where their athletes can excel like fin swimming, vovinam, chinlone and chess in the meet that will be held in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

    In their hosting debut back in 2003 when the SEA Games was held in Hanoi and the seaport city of Ho Chi Minh, formerly known as Saigon, the Vietnamese bets emerged as the overall champions with a tally of 158 gold, 97 silver and 91 bronze medals.

    The Philippines, which later hosted the meet in 2005, had one of its better SEA Games performances overseas, placing fourth overall with a tally of 48-54-75.