At the Cambodia SEA Games, the Philippines sees an opportunity to fight for the top spot

Members of the Philippine team hold their national flag during the opening ceremony of the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) at the My Day National Stadium in Hanoi on May 12, 2022.

Members of the Philippines, led by Paul Walter EJ Obina, hold their national flag at the opening ceremony of the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) on May 12, 2022 at the My Day National Stadium in Hanoi. (Photo by Nhac NGUYEN / AFP)

When Cambodia hosts the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA) next year, the region’s sports powers will have a shot at proving who is the top dog.

With the overall title, the host countries’ tradition of fleeing will be put on hold, with little hope that Cambodia, just over 17 million countries, will collect most of the gold in the bows.

“It’s someone’s ballgame,” said Abraham “Bambol” Talentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), as a guest at the Philippine Sportswriters Association on Tuesday. “It must be done with due respect to Cambodia.”

In the last three stages of the biennial meeting, the host country (2017 Malaysia, 2019 Philippines, 2022 Vietnam) has always won the overall title in fugitive fashion. In the previous two SEA Games of those years (2013 Myanmar, 2015 Singapore), Thailand won the overall title.

Fourth in Vietnam

The Philippines finished fourth (52 gold, 70 silver and 105 bronze medals) behind Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia in the recent SEA Games.

A large fraction of these 70 silver came from thematic games and 27 of them against Vietnamese athletes.

“The host country has an advantage and we have to accept that,” Talentino said.

And Talentino hopes the country could become a serious contender for the overall title in the relatively “neutral” host Cambodia.

“We want to send a full team to Cambodia with all the game entries. We are just waiting for the final list of events, “said Talentino.

‘Get Ready Quickly’

Cambodia is ready to make a list of events within a month, after which the POC will cascade information to national sports organizations so that they can plan ahead and prepare quickly.

Phnom Penh will stage the games from May 5 to May 16 next year.

“We can prepare quickly for a long training period. Since the Vietnam SEA Games are still fresh in our minds, we can review all our shortcomings during the competition and go to Cambodia to improve them, “said Talentino.

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