PHL will fare well in Hanoi despite pandemic — Fernandez

PHILIPPINE Southeast Asian Games chef de mission Ramon Fernandez has high hopes the country will fare well in the Hanoi meet set on May 12 to 23 despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

“All our athletes are ready,” said Mr. Fernandez, a Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) board member, in Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum. “I think we prepared well even during the lockdown and some bubble training.”

The basketball legend said the PSC will fund all the members of the 987-strong delegation including 646 athletes who will try to defend the overall crown, if not, finish in the top three in biennial meet.

The country ran away with the overall title after harvesting 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals.

Not all medalists though will get to return as host Vietnam has scrapped a lot of sports events where the Filipinos reigned supreme.

But Mr. Fernandez remained adamant that those who remained could duplicate their feat from last time.

“I’m really relying on our podium finishers from 2019 and I would like to believe several, if not all of them, could retain their gold medal and hopefully improve on the silver or bronze they won,” said Mr. Fernandez.

Mr. Fernandez said the first batch of athletes including those from football and kickboxing would leave on May 1 with some following suit the next few days.

The main bulk will fly to Hanoi on May 10, or a day after the national elections.

“Most of our national athletes can vote,” said Mr. Fernandez. — Joey Villar