Vargas All Praises for Filipino Athletes
JAKARTA—Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas is all praises for the Filipino athletes who competed in the 18th Asian Games and bagged four gold, two silver and 15 bronze medals.
Vargas, who was installed as POC president along with Abraham Tolentino as chairman in a special election only last February, congratulated members of the delegation despite disappointments in many fronts.
After 17 days of competition, the 227-athlete delegation improved on the 1-3-11 gold-silver-bronze haul in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and put the Philippines to its best performance in eight years—since its 3-4-9 harvest in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
“‘Yung mga atleta natin can stand proud on the medal stand. We have really improved our medal tally from one gold, three silvers and 11 bronze medals. We’ve done better,” Vargas said.
“Ang atleta talaga ang magdadala, kaya the athlete needs all the support. They get the blame, they get the reward, but our role is to really support the athletes. They are the most important part of the equation,” said Vargas in paying tribute to the athletes.
All of the Philippines’ gold medalists in the games are women, with the youngest at 17 years old — golfer Yuka Saso, who is joined by fellow golfers Bianca Pagdanganan, 21, and Kaye Lois Go, 19, and skateboarder Margielyn Didal, 19.
Even the oldest of them all in weightlifting icon Hidilyn Diaz is still a millennial at 27.
“The women in sports are really giving us so much pride. So we should really look at parity and bring in more (of them) in sports. They have proven that they can win,” Vargas said.
From 22nd place in the 2014 Asiad, the Philippines improved by three notches to no. 19 this time, still behind Southeast Asian Games rivals Thailand (12th, 11 golds, 14 silvers, 46 bronzes), Malaysia (14th, 6-12-15) and Vietnam (17th, 4-16-18).
Vargas, the head of the sport of boxing, had a silver from flyweight Rogen Ladon and two bronze medals from light flyweight Carlo Paalam and middleweight Eumir Marcial — a result which the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines president gave him “mixed emotions.”
“From the sport that I lead, I’m frustrated not by how the boxers performed, but how the results were judged,” Vargas said, ruing the judging in the games, which seemed to have favored boxers from Uzbekistan, the home country of International Boxing Federation interim president Gafuk Rakhimov.
“When boxing presidents and athletes come to your dugout saying that you won, it gives you a sense that injustice has been done. When the crowd from Indonesia and some from Thailand were cheering for the Philippines, then there must have been something wrong that had happened,” Vargas said.