By Nick Giongco
Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino is set to fly to Vietnam next month to lobby for arnis, obstacle sports, kickboxing and even dancesports, rich source of gold medals for the Philippines, to be included in the roster of competitions for the 2021 Southeast Asian Games.
This, even as vovinam, finswimming and shuttlecock, sports that are totally alien to PH athletes, are set to make a comeback when Vietnam hosts the 31st SEA Games.
“I told my Vietnamese counterpart during the closing ceremony that I’ll be there every week, if that’s what it takes,” said Tolentino.
Arnis delivered 14 of the country’s 149 gold medal haul, dancesport had 10, obstacle sports six, and kickboxing three.
As host of the SEAG, Vietnam is given leeway to add a few sports to the official calendar. The Philippines took full advantage of the privilege by staging 530 events in 56 sports during the 30th edition which it topped with 149 gold medals, 117 (silver) and 121 (bronze).
As recent host, the leadership of the POC wisely worked to include sports where the Philippines had strong chances of medaling with Tolentino the man behind the 56 sport and 530 events.
It turned out to be a coup that Tolentino pulled off that the Filipino athletes rose to the occasion and delivered.
Every other SEAG nation practices this as a way of spreading goodwill to everyone in the ASEAN region.
The Vietnam Sports Administration has initially approved the holding of 36 sports, including the centerpiece athletics and aquatics, which have been classified as Category 1 sports.
The Category 2 are those played in the Olympics and Asian Games, which includes basketball and boxing, volleyball, weightlifting, football, tennis, wrestling, badminton, sepak takraw, gymnastics, archery, judo, karate, rowing, shooting, handball, cycling, table tennis, billiards and snooker and golf.
The Category 3 has petanque, pencak silat, Muay, dancesports, esport, kickboxing, vovinam, shuttlecock and finswimming.
The last three were not played during the recent SEAG.
Vovinam is a form of Vietnamese martials arts that was founded in 1939 while shuttlecock is a cross between badminton and volleyball and finswmming is a variation of the traditional swimming defined in Wikipedia as an underwater sport consisting of four techniques involving swimming with the use of fins either on the water’s surface using a snorkel with either monofins or bifins.
Vietnam wound up second overall with a tally of 98-85-105 in the 30th SEAG.
Four more sports will be added to the final roster of events, according to Vietnam, which will have Hanoi as the main hub of the hosting. Other nearby provinces, Bac Ninh, Quang Ninh, Hai Duong, Hai Phong, Vinh Phuc and Hoa Binh are likewise staging some events.
The 2021 SEAG will take place in late-November until the first week of December.