Ramirez said there was nothing to be ashamed of finishing behind Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia in the overall medal tally considering the challenges the athletes went through to train during the pandemic.
The Philippines bagged 52 gold, 70 silver and 104 bronze medals in the Hanoi meet in Vietnam – its best performance since the 2003 edition and excluding the 2005 and 2019 editions where the country hosted and won the overall championships.
Host Vietnam, as expected, won the overall championship with a massive haul of 205 golds, 125 silvers and 116 bronzes.
“It would have been a very good finish had we converted 50 percent of our silvers (to gold) and bronzes (to silver),” said Ramirez, who monitored the country’s participation daily during the duration of the meet.
Ramirez also pointed out that developing elite athletes was expensive, and that they would need all the financial support they could get not only from the government but also from the private sector.
“You need money for coaches, both local and foreign, airfare, transportation and hotel for international exposure to season them, plus the logistical support like proper nutrition, sports psychology, and medicine for athletes discovered abroad or locally,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez also stressed that the agency would not only support national athletes but also implement a genuine sports program in the countryside in cooperation with the Department of Education and local government units.
Some members of the national team who became elite athletes were products of grassroots programs.
One prime example is Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.
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