Sports leaders vow to fight for the inclusion of their respective events following Vietnam’s decision to program only 36 sports in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi next year.
Triathlon Association of the Philippines president Tom Carrasco said they would leave no stone unturned in making sure that the organizers would reinstate his sport, where the country won three gold and two silver medals in the previous edition of the biennial meet in Manila last year.
A veteran sport official and former chairman of the Philippine Olympic Committee, Carrasco he would reach out to other Southeast Asian countries to lobby for the reinstatement of triathlon.
Vietnam, which would be hosting the biennial meet for the first time since 2003, drew flak after dropping 20 sports where the country has a golden chance of winning.
Easily, the country lost around 56 gold medals, including 14 from arnis, six from skateboarding, six from obstacle course racing, four from billiards, three from esports and two from modern pentathlon, putting doubt on its hold on the overall title.
Other sports that were dropped were surfing, duathlon, softball, soft tennis, jiujitsu, windsurfing and water skiing.
Carrasco said they would do everything to fight for the retention of triathlon, especially since they have been ruling it for the past three editions with Claire Adorna, Kim Mangrobang, John “Rambo” Chicano and Nikko Huelgas emerging victorious.
“We have two approaches: First is through the POC and then through the Southeast Asian Triathlon Association,” said Carrasco, who served as executive director of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee.
“As the Southeast Asian Triathlon Association vice president, I am working with other countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia for the retention of our sport. After all, in the past three Southeast Asian Games we have a 100 percent batting average.”
Skateboarding president Carl Sambrano, on the other hand, will be banking on POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino to fight for the inclusion of their sport, which would be making a debut in the Tokyo Olympics few months before the biennial meet.
“I know Cong. Bambol will continue to lobby for our inclusion. We’re hoping for it to be included since it is already an Olympic event,” said Sambrano, who will be bannered by Asian Games gold medalist Margielyn Didal with Filipino-American Christina Means, Jericho Francisco and Daniel Ledermann.
“I understand that Vietnam had to cut its budget last month because of the coronavirus. But we are really looking forward to the SEA Games next year because skateboarding was one of the sports that have us the most gold medal last year.”
Arnis vice president Gerard Cañete said the news of Vietnam dropping their sport came as a surprise.
“We were actually shocked because Vietnam did well in the previous SEA Games,” said Cañete, knowing that the decision whether to include or exclude a sport in the biennial meet depends on the winning ability of the host country.
“It would hurt the athletes to know that they can no longer compete, especially that they have been vastly improving and that arnis is now receiving more attention. We are really hoping that Vietnam would reconsider because it doesn’t take a lot of money to hold arnis.”