When redefining the SEA Games, Bachmann emphasized the need for balance

Vanessa Sarno, 19, led the youth weightlifting team at the recent SEA Games.  —PHOTO BY THE PHILIPPINES GROUP

Vanessa Sarno, 19, led the youth weightlifting team at the recent SEA Games. —PHOTO BY THE PHILIPPINES GROUP

If there’s one thing Richard Bachmann has learned from taking the rounds in his first international multi-event competition as President of the Philippine Sports Commission, it’s the need to redefine purpose of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA).

Find a balance, he calls it.

For a long time, an event where the goal has always been to increase the number of gold medals, the SEA Games – if Bachmann works his way – must also become a showcase for rising stars to reach the top level. of international competitions.

“Right now I feel we are bringing the athletes who were supposed to focus on the Asian Games and the Olympics at the SEA Games for the medals,” Bachmann said. “What about other athletes, their development? We have to find a balance.”

“When I was [at the SEA Games in Cambodia], it was a learning experience for me. It’s like you’re chasing the medal or you’re chasing the grassroots improvement and finding the next generation of athletes,” he added.

The two sports that caught Bachmann’s attention during the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia were weightlifting and gymnastics, which were hampered by external factors but created a balance that allowed them to shine.

young athletes

As for weightlifting, the absence of Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo is a pity. But that has allowed the sport’s young players to attract attention. The team went home with two golds, four silvers and one bronze.

Elreen Ann Ando led the team as she won the gold medal in the women’s 59 kilogram (kg) category in record fashion. Notably, the team has shining teenagers: 71kg gold medals Vanessa Sarno and silver medals Angeline Colonia (45kg women), Lovely Inan (49kg) and Rosalinda Faustino (55kg).

Gymnastics has been restricted by a rule issued by the organizers that limits the number of events that world champion Carlos Yulo can participate in. As a result, Yulo won only two gold medals, but teammates John Ivan Cruz and Juancho Miguel Besana shone with their own wins.

“The interesting thing is that when Carlos is limited to two movements, the other two movements (Cruz and Besana) do,” says Bachmann. “It’s a stroke of luck in disguise and that can happen to all of the NSA (national sports association).”

“We can’t keep [sending] Yulo or (pole vaulter) EJ (Obiena)… come back (to attend the SEA Games)”, he added. “Who is next in line? We have to have a plan for that. The Southeast Asian Games are really for aspiring athletes. Let’s think together and find that balance.”

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