MANILA – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) announced on Friday that gold and silver medalists in the just-concluded Cambodia Southeast Asia Games (SEAG) are likely to join Team Philippines in the 12th Asian Games scheduled in Hangzhou, China from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8.
“That’s a parameter, gold and silver medalists in Cambodia will be strongly considered for the national team to Hangzhou,” POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said. “They’ll be funded under Group A classification. The rest will be in Group B, but they need to be evaluated.”
Tolentino said the other criterion “will be based on Asian and world rankings, which are essential as the Asian Games are a qualifier for Paris 2024 and the Hangzhou results fall within the Olympic qualifying window, which starts June 1 and lasts for a year.”
The POC has set a Group A classification for athletes to be funded by the Philippine Sports Commission and Group B for those whose participation will be shouldered by their national sports associations.
The Philippines won 260 medals – 58 golds, 85 silvers, and 117 bronzes – to finish fifth at the Cambodia SEAG held from May 5 to 17.
Vietnam topped the medal table with 136 golds, 105 silvers, and 118 bronzes.
Thailand, the 2025 SEAG host, was second (108-96-108), followed by Indonesia (87-80-109) and Cambodia (81-74-127).
China will be hosting the Asian Games for the third time. The first was in 1990 (Beijing) and the second in 2010 (Guangzhou).
The Philippines pocketed four gold medals, two silvers, and 15 bronze medals at the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
The gold medals came from Filipino-Japanese golfer Yuka Saso (women’s individual and team events), weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz (women’s 53kg), and skateboarder Margielyn Didal.
Diaz, competing in the 55kg category, also bagged the gold medal at the 2019 SEA Games, 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the 2022 World Championships.
This year, Diaz moved to the 59kg category and is trying to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. She skipped the Cambodia SEAG to join the Asian Championships in Jiju, South Korea – an Olympic qualifier – where she placed fourth behind Lou Shifang and Pei Xinyi of China, and Kuo Hsing-Chun of Chinese Taipei.
The next Olympic qualifier is the World Championships, which will take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from Sept. 2 to 17.
Diaz is expected to compete there along with Cambodia SEAG gold medalists Elreen Ann Ando (59kg) and Vanessa Sarno (71kg). (PNA)