The long delayed 2021 SEA Games is set to finally begin in Vietnam with Team Philippines looking to repeat their success in 2019.
The past couple of years has seen Filipino athletes dominate, break records, and snatch medals and trophies in various sports both locally and abroad. Whether it be in more traditional sports or emerging ones, Filipino athletes have shown that they can and will keep up, if not outperform the best of them. And this May, expect to see Filipino athletes prove their prowess once more with the start of the 2021 SEA Games.
2021 SEA GAMES
Initially set to be held in Hanoi ,Vietnam in 2021, the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Months later, the games are finally set to begin this month, with the opening ceremony set on May 12. It is important to note that some sports and events have already been held. In fact, the country already got its first gold medal thanks to Pencak Silat athlete Francine Padios. The 31st edition of the games will feature over 40 sports across 526 events with a total of 5467 athletes participating across 11 countries. Team Philippines is looking to make a splash at the games as they have a lot of expectations to meet.
For starters, the last SEA Games held was in the country in 2019. That edition saw the country bag the greatest number of medals among all countries, with a total of 146 gold, 117 silver, and 119 bronze medals. While the pandemic has made it hard for athletes to find time to train and practice, officials have said that they are aiming for a top three finish. 656 athletes are part of the delegation of Team Philippines, the third highest behind Thailand and host country Vietnam.
With hundreds of athletes, both veterans, title defenders, and rookies, competing in nearly every sport at the 2021 SEA Games, there’s a lot to look forward to from Team Philippines. Here are just some of the names and events to keep an eye out for.
After her history making gold medal win at the Tokyo Olympics, Hidilyn Diaz is looking to add to her four medal SEA Games haul and defend her title under the 55 kg weightlifting event. Speaking of Olympics, while Carlos Yulo may not have won a medal, his still impressive showing makes him one to watch out for as he competes in gymnastics. Not to mention the fact that he was the most winning Pinoy athlete in 2019 at seven medals.
Basketball has always been a favorite among Filipinos and Gilas Pilipinas is aiming to add another medal to their historic 18 gold medals. The team will be led by brothers Thirdy and Kiefer Ravena and six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo. Gilas Pilipinas has already bagged 14 SEA Games men’s title in a row and a win here will make it their 15th.
Volleyball is another sport to keep your eye on as the Philippine women’s team is hoping to bag a medal this year while Thailand is defending their championship. The team spent two weeks in Brazil training with Alyssa Valdez, team captain Aby Maraño, and Jaja Santiago looking to lead the team to a medal finish.
AIMING FOR THE GOLD
EJ Obiena reached a SEA Games record with a 5.45 m recorded height and holds the Asian men’s record at 5.93 m. Expect the world’s number five ranked pole vaulter to reach even higher this go around. EJ is also set to carry the Philippine flag during the opening ceremony, something that he was supposed to do in Tokyo, but couldn’t due to scheduling issues. Also in track and field, while Kristina Knott can’t defend her 200 m title due to a recent injury, other Pinoy athletes are looking to defend their gold medal titles at their respective events. There are also athletes, such as twin sprinters Kayla and Kyla Richardson looking to earn a medal. Tennis star Alex Eala saw major success in 2021 and she is set to make her debut in the SEA Games with team Philippines.
Finally, 2019 was the first time that Esports was introduced as a medal placing sport at the SEA Games and this year marks anticipated it’s return. The inaugural event saw Team Philippines bag gold in major events and they’re aiming to repeat that success. The games featured are League of Legends: Wild Rift, PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire, Arena of Valor, FIFA Online 4, CrossFire, and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
The 2021 SEA Games opening ceremony is on May 12 with the games ending on May 23. For a full list of sports as well as their schedules, check them out here. You can watch the SEA Games on Cignal, One Sports, Cignal Play, and Smart GigaPlay. Good luck to all the athletes!
Continue Reading: UAAP Season 84’s Volleyball Games Have Begun And New Stars Were Born