Take it from local sepak takraw head Karen Tanchanco Caballero, also currently Deputy Secretary General of the Philippine Olympic Committee, her sport will come back in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games after failing to win any medal at the recent Asian Games in Indonesia.
“Before we won a world championship title in sepak in 2016, there was no pressure on my athletes. But after we won, expectations also went up even in the Asian Games,” Caballero said.
“I admit that together with my officials in the team, we failed to level up on our side. When you have world champion athletes, you need to come up with a new program, they are to be treated differently and we did not,” Caballero candidly admitted, though she also cited one athlete who was not mentally prepared during the actual competition.
When asked if the training her athletes got was sufficient, again she went straight to the point.
“I would say about 70% only, the other 30% was for the quality training that we missed. The problem was we could not get a slot in the training camp in Thailand, which we used in 2016 before we won in the world championships. The Thais did not want to accommodate us anymore, maybe fearing that what happened in 2016 will recur. The good thing is the Koreans have agreed to take in my athletes in the future,” she replied.
The sepak takraw team will be leaving for the world championships, with Caballero sending some of her “B team” athletes to toughen them up in preparation for the SEA Games, which the Philippines hosts next year.
“We will come back for sure, our sepak Philippine league will take off, too, by next year with qualifying tournaments in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, then a national championships. This we aligned with the SEA Games, too. Sports psychology and sports nutrition will be part of our program already,” Caballero added.