As I write this, we’re right in the thick of the 30th South East Asian (SEA) Games. So far, our local athletes have done us proud, reaping a veritable harvest of gold medals. Hidilyn Diaz and Carlos Yulo, in particular, performed so well that hopes for elusive Olympic medals next year are running high.
Founded on 22 May 1958, the SEA Games actually originated as the South East Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games. Luang Sukhum Nayaoradit, then Vice-President of the Thailand Olympic Committee, conceptualized it. His country, along with Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Vietnam, comprised its founding members.
Nearly two decades later, the SEAP Federation formally admitted Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines into the league. Not long after, the SEAP Games became the SEA Games as well.
Today, the SEA Games occur every two years, with a different country hosting each time. Its participants come from a total of 11 nations within South East Asia and International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials help supervise the events.
Yet have you ever wondered which country has scored the most number of medals over the Games’ long and varied history? Or, more importantly, how our country ranks amidst its South East Asian neighbors?
Since they technically invented the SEA Games and even hosted the very first event, it’s hardly surprising that Thailand tops the list.
To date, this country has nabbed the no. 1 spot on the medal tally thirteen times. Interestingly, they’ve done so not just in their home tournaments, but also on foreign shores. Out of their current medal collection of 5,810, 2,162 are gold medals.
As the only other country to cross the 5,000-medal threshold, Indonesia dominated the games in its infancy. More specifically, they topped the games nine times out of eleven after the authorities renamed it the SEA Games back in 1977.
However, Indonesia’s top standing somehow diminished over the recent years. The last time they finished at no. 1 was back in 2011, when they hosted the games.
Right smack in the middle lies Malaysia, with just under 4,100 medals in their SEA Games history. 1,248 of those are gold.
Malaysia also happens to be the latest topnotcher, having outperformed everyone at the last games. Coincidentally, they also hosted the 2017 SEA Games and were the first winner of this century’s games back in 2001.
Surprise, surprise! This year’s host ranks among the top five countries participating in the SEA Games.
Our current tally is at 3,351 medals total, with 918 gold medals included. While the only other time the Philippines finished at the top of the table was in 2005, this year’s turnout could move them closer to the top of this list.
While this financial powerhouse has never finished at the top of the table, they beat out Vietnam and Myanmar to stand fifth on this list. Why? Well, what Singapore lacks in rankings, they make up for in quantity. As of the last count, their medal count is at 3,144.
Given our athletes’ current performance, one can only hope that the Philippines will move up on the list after this year’s games are concluded.