by Nick Giongco
Incheon Asian Games chief of mission Richie Garcia said yesterday that that those who will be selected to represent the country in the Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 sportsfest won’t be there simply to bulk up the delegation.
“The Asian Games won’t be just for exposure,” said Garcia, chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) said in a radio interview, stressing that a soon-to-be-formed task force will oversee the selection process in close coordination with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
Garcia said the number of athletes to Incheon will be sizable since there will be several team sports that will be formed to take part, including the Gilas Pilipinas basketball squad, a rugby team and possibly the Philippine Azkals.
Despite the high number of athletes, Garcia said bringing the athletes to Korea won’t pose a problem unlike in Myanmar where the 2013 Southeast Asian Games was held.
“The airfare is a lot cheaper because there are several direct flights from Manila, Cebu and even Kalibo (Aklan),” said Garcia, noting that reaching Myanmar from Manila entailed long layovers in Singapore and Bangkok.
Garcia plans to send Asiad hopefuls to overseas tournaments to maximize their winning chances as well as import foreign coaches who will help hone the skills of athletes in training venues outside Metro Manila to avoid pollution.
While the Asian Games is a bigger stage, Garcia is “looking forward” to the Philippines’ participation pointing to “some good surprises.”
The Philippines brought home three gold medals from the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and Garcia is upbeat it can be surpassed what with basketball now a prime candidate for the top spot.
Those who shone with gold medals from the Myanmar SEAG will be prioritized for inclusion to Incheon but they’re not assured of earning automatic slots given their lofty stature in the SEAG.
Still, Garcia cautions everyone that foreign exposure alone won’t guarantee success.
“We are not miracle workers here but we will do our part in giving the athletes the opportunity to have an extended training.”