NAY PYI TAW, Dec. 18 (PNA) –- The athletics competition of the 27th Southeast Asian Games has yet to conclude, but Philippine athletics team manager Philip Ella Juico is already giving his wards a passing mark.
Juico, the former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), said he was impressed with his athletes’ performance in the track and field events being held at the Wunna Theikdi Sports Complex here.
“I am very happy with the performance of the athletes. They are showing that they have the heart and the ability to compete with our neighbors,” said Juico on Wednesday.
So far, Filipino track and field athletes already have four gold, three silver and three bronze medals to stay on target of hitting their projected five-gold medal mark.
Beijing Olympics veteran Henry Dagmil led the Philippines’ medal parade after reclaiming the men’s long jump while prized Filipino-American Eric Cray and Archand Christian Bagsit plucked the mint in the men’s 400m hurdles.
And before the day came to a close Wednesday, Christopher Ulboc clinched the gold medal in men’s 3000m steeplechase, with more expected from decathlete Jesson Ramil Cid.
A handful more is expected with Cray marching back to the battle in the men’s 110m hurdles while the quartet of Bagsit, Alejan, Isidro del Prado Jr. and Julius Nierras is among the favorites in the 4x400m relay.
“This is already way beyond my expectations,” said Juico, who is set to replace Go Teng Kok as president of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) next year.
What makes the haul noteworthy, as Juico pointed out, is the fact that things have been rocky for PATAFA in the months leading to the biennial meet.
And though the squad won 10 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze medals in the Thailand Open last October, things were not rosy for the federation.
The controversial Go also suffered an illness, putting more pressure on the athletes to deliver and thus dedicate something for their long-time chief.
“We have to give it to the athletes,” said Juico, who is the vice chairman of PATAFA. They worked hard and produced medals despite the situation in our federation. Their hunger and determination to win cannot be denied.”
Action resumes Thursday with Ulboc and Melvin Guarte competing in the finals of the men’s 1500m run as well as Cray and Jessica Barnard seeing action in the men’s 110m hurdles and women’s 1500m run, respectively. (PNA)