(MALAYA) PHILIPPINE sports officials see no problems with measurable sports such as swimming and athletes in next month’s Southeast Asian Games in Thailand. Anything can happen, however, in sports where judges have the final say.

"The big question mark is the type of officiating we will face in Thailand," said Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco Jr. in yesterday’s PSA Forum on Shakey’s UN Ave.

"In measurable sports, I think we will do very well. But in subjective sports (like boxing and taekwondo) we have to contend with officiating," he added.

"We do not differ with the way the POC looks at things. But we’re looking forward to an excellent performance by our athletes," said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Butch Ramirez.

Thailand is notorious for rendering hometown decisions, and Cojuangco said the decision of Thai organizers to limit the number of referees each foreign country can bring in the sport of taekwondo could be an early indication of things to come.

Despite this, however, Cojuangco and Ramirez said the 596 Filipino athletes competing in Thailand are raring to do battle and bring home gold medals.

"It’s time for our athletes to sustain their performance in the 2005 SEA Games and the 2006 Asian Games. It has created a big impact on our athletes," said Ramirez.

Two years ago, the Philippines, as host, won the overall championship. In the Doha Asian Games last year, Pinoy athletes won four gold medals for the country’s best finish in more than 40 years.

"We are trying to keep that spirit," said Ramirez, who refused to say how many gold medals he expects Pinoy athletes to bring home. But he said winning a hundred medals sounds good.

"One hundred medals? That’s beautiful. And I don’t want to disagree on that. Maybe we can even win more. I have my own number but I cannot share it with you," he said.

Cojuangco also kept his cards close to his chest, saying: "I don’t count. What’s important to me is the quality of performance our athletes will dish out. I think our athletes are better prepared now than in 2005."

Shooters start Pinoy drive with a whimper

(MALAYA) INSTEAD of an expected big bang, the country’s 24th Southeast Asian Games campaign fired off on a rather low note, with Frances Nicole Medina and Susan Aguado finishing way behind their rivals at the start of the shooting events yesterday at the Sports Authority of Thailand Shooting Range in Bangkok.

Medina, 18, placed ninth with 581 points in the 50-meter rifle event, six points behind Myanmar’s Than Than Saw and Mohd Taibi Nur Suryani of Malaysia in the qualification round.

Than and Suryani both scored 587 while Indon Chalid Erlinawati had 586.

Aguado had rounds of 277 and 278 for a 555 total that put her in a disappointing 14th place, missing the final event that features the top eight in qualifying. Carolino Gonzales was seeing action in men’s 10-m air pistol at presstime.

Meanwhile, national diving coach Rommel Kong said the team is good for five medals in the games but refused to say whether any would be glittering gold.

As hosts in 2005, the Philippines bagged five gold, one silver and two bronze medals. Malaysia topped diving with a 5-4-2 haul.

"Kaya pa rin ang five, pero hindi na sigurado kung ginto. Five, pero any color. Mahirap talagang mangako," Kong said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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