PHILIPPINE Athletics' Track and Field Association president Philip Juico knows he has six athletes capable of winning gold medals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
But he also challenged his possible silver medalists to go for gold and leave it all on the track and field.
“Ang sabi namin sa kanila (possible silver medallists), you guys who are capable of silver, tirahin niyo na. Try your best to win the gold. Kasi sabi nila, a silver can also be gold,” said Juico.
In PATAFA's projections, Juico sees a gold-silver-haul of 6-10-8 in the coming athletics' competitions of the biennial meet, slated Dec. 5 to 10 at the 20,000-seat New Clark City athletics' stadium inside the sprawling 9,500-hectare NCC sports complex.
“Sa triple jump, it's Harry Diones. He has been a little inconsistent, kaya lang tumataas ang ranking niya. From silver, puwedeng mag-gold iyan. In decathlon, it's Aries Toledo, who won gold in KualaLumpur. Probably good for a silver, pero puwede rin mag-gold,” said Juico. “We urge them to go for it. Ibigay na ang lahat for our country.”
Projections are quite conservative on reigning marathon champion Mary Joy Tabal due to a pair of Thai runners, “breathing down her neck.”
“It (gold count) could be anywhere between 6 to 12 golds. That's (12) the most optimistic,” he added.
The tracksters who are best-equipped to win golds are pole vaulters Ernest John Obiena and Natalie Uy, 800-meter specialist Carter Lilly, hurdles champ Eric Cray, sprinter Kristina Knott and new recruit, shot-putter William Morrison.
The 21-year-old Morrison heaved a distance of 20.4 meters in a Bloomington, Indiana meet last June. That mark, is over two meters better than the 17.42, which Promrob Juntima of Thailand achieved when he won the gold medal back in the 2017 SEA Games.
Morrison, in fact, is just half a meter short of the Olympic standard of 21.1 that would qualify him for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Morrison is a candidate for the Olympics. Kaya because he is throwing in the 20s,” said Juico.
Another FilAm in Cray is the best bet in the men's 400-meter hurdles, since he is no. 1 in the SEA rankings.
Then there is Lilly, who can go below 1:48.00 in the men's 800-meter run.
Pole-vaulters Obiena and Uy, the gold and bronze medalists, respectively, in the Asian Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar, are currently the best in the region.