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SEAGAMES 2023

Good finish, says track coach

‘We could have trained straight and ignored the Christmas break.’

MOHD RASFAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE MALAYSIAN Umar Osman (right) finishes ahead of Filipinos Umajesty Williams (second from right) and Frederick Ramirez Cabatu (second from left) and Thai Joshua Robert Atkinson (left) in the men’s 400m final during the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh on 9 May.

Team Philippines’ track and field wrapped up its 32nd Southeast Asian Games campaign garnering four golds,10 silvers and eight bronzes, a modest harvest from a squad that only got to continuously train three months before the Games.

But head coach George “Jojo” Posadas is not going to make it an excuse.

“We could have trained straight and ignored the Christmas break,” Posadas told the Daily Tribune in hindsight. “Of course, we could have done better, but this is still a good showing.”

He said there are a handful of potential among the team including 17-year-old Gennah Malapit who won a silver medal in the women’s javelin throw.

The 5-foot-8 Malapit, who hails from Rizal Province, heaved to a distance of 49.55 meters, while the Thai who took the gold, Jariya Wichaidit, covered 52.60m.

NCAA star Frederick Ramirez, who finished third in men’s 400m, is also a promising find. The collegiate MVP turned a time of 46.63 seconds.

Fellow Filipino Umajesty Williams was second (46.52 seconds), while Malaysia’s Omar Usman topped the competition in 46.34 seconds.

“These are the bright spots,” said Posadas, husband and coach of the legendary Elma Muros-Posadas who herself owned 15 SEA Games golds.

Williams would captain the 4X400m men’s relay team to the country’s fourth gold of the competition. The team included Joyme Sequita, Michael Carlo del Prado and Clinton Bautista.

Bautista, the winner of the 2019 and 2021 110m hurdles, only joined the team training less than three months before they left for Cambodia because he was undergoing basic military training.

“We (at the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association) will assess our performance here as we prepare for bigger meets like the Asian Games,” Posadas said.

The Philippines also won golds from Ernest John Obiena in the pole vault (his third straight); Eric Cray in men’s 400m hurdles (his sixth consecutive); and Janry Ubas in men’s long jump (his first).

During the previous Games in Hanoi, the country went away with a 5-7-14 haul, while in the 2019 edition held here, the Philippines collected 11-8-8.

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