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Overall championship, two years in the making – Ramirez

Members of the Gilas women’s basketball team flash the number one sign after receiving gold medals in the 30th SEA Games. With them are PHISGOC chair Peter Cayetano, Senators Bong Go and Ronald Bato, POC president Bambol Tolentino and PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez. (contributed photo)

The astonishing accomplishment by Filipino athletes that installed the Philippines as overall champion of the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games was not a miracle achieved overnight.

The feat was at least two years in the making.

“The program began immediately after the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur where we finished miserably at sixth place with only 24 gold medals to show,” Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman and Team Philippines Chef de Mission William Ramirez said during the 30th SEAG closing ceremonies parade

“The Philippines didn’t improve on finishing sixth in Singapore, and worse, there were four more golds in those 2015 Games,” added Ramirez.

Ramirez earned a significant niche in Philippine sports—and even in the SEA Games—history following the success of the 2005 and 2019 SEA Games which were both hosted by the country. He was chef de mission in both editions.

“But regardless of whether I am chef de mission or not, my mandate as PSC chairman is to make sure that our athletes are well taken care of—from their nutrition to billeting to the most important ingredient of all—training, preparation and foreign exposure,” he said.

The PSC, Ramirez said, didn’t hesitate to pour all its resources to the athletes.

The Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team on top of the podium for winning the gold in the 30th SEA Games. (contributed photo)

In the two years ahead of the country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games, the PSC spent over 2.1 billion pesos for the preparation and foreign exposure—training and competition—of almost 1,400 members of the national pool of each of the 56 national sports associations that were on the Games program.

The funding translated to P1.4 million spent on each and every athlete who commandeered the SEA Games campaign that resulted to those 385 medals won—149 gold, 117 silver and 119 bronze medals.

“Each and every athlete’s preparation was meticulously provided for by the PSC. We in the agency knew that becoming overall champion is not achieved overnight,” Ramirez said. “Sports are now entirely scientific. Luck no longer part of the formula for winning—it’s about ‘chance favoring the prepared mind [and body].”

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