Despite the perennial problem of bureaucratic red tape in government, athletics secretary general Renato Unso believes the country is on course of duplicating, if not surpassing its five-goal haul in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.
While host Malaysia, regional kingpin Thailand and surging Vietnam have been honing their skills beyond their shores, the Filipino bets will start their own camp in Hong Kong on June 4.
According to Unso, more than 20 athletes have been finalized to spend more than six weeks at the Hong Kong Sports Institute starting June 4.
The HK buildup will serve as the most crucial stage of Team Philippines’ preparation for the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur this August.
While chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez doesn’t see any issues with the training stint, the government slow process is hurting the preparations.
“We don’t have any problem with the PSC because chairman Ramirez is quick to approve our request but you know how it is in government,” said Unso.
Unso is banking on Fil-Am Eric Cray in the century and 400 hurdles and Kayla Richardson in the women’s 100 sprint.
Unso feels that a realistic target for athletics is to come up with the same number of golds.
At most, the Philippines can bring home six golds, says Unso, stressing that those being groomed to deliver include pole vaulter EJ Obiena (now training in Italy), triple jumper Mark Harry Diones, Trent Beram in the 400, Mervin Guarte in the 800, Patrick Unso in the low hurdles and even long jumper Marestela Torres.
Faced with the prospects of catching up with the rest of its SEAG rivals, Unso nevertheless is upbeat about their chances.
“Most of our rivals have been training in the US and all over the world since November,” said Unso.
“But we are up to the challenge,” he added.