SEA Games 2015: Selection Methodology Men’s 800m
ANDREW PIRIE – ATFS Statistician -editor for pinoyathletics.info
The 2013 SEA Games in Nyapitdaw saw Malaysian Mohd Riduan Jironi finally win the SEA Games gold he had been chasing for so many years in 1:50.98, Mervin Guarte was second in 1:51.51 and Duong Van Thai of Vietnam the 2011 SEA Games Champion settled for Bronze in 1:51.51. It was an epic race with Van Thai sitting back and then kicking with 250m to go. Guarte went with him.
But it was the patience of the battle hardened Jironi who let out a devastating deadly double kick the last 120m. Pulling away from Guarte and Van Thai to win the 2013 SEA Games. Van Thai faded in the final meters of the race allowing Guarte to nip him for the silver.
There was no qualifiers at the National Games, Weekly Relays and athletes were even further off target at the UAAP and NCAA. The closest athlete to the standard besides Guarte during the time period who had ran 1:52.26 at the National Games was Elbren Neri who had ran 1:52.60 to bag second at the ASEAN University Games in December of 2014. It looked like no one else was going to land the mark.
Vilog has an epic qualifying mark, but school rules prevent him from joining SEA Games
With the last qualifying meet the National Open in Laguna March 19-22 what unfolded left alot to the imagination. Mervin Guarte who had already presented a letter to the PATAFA would not be competing at the national open as he was comfortable that two runners would not break the SEA Games standard of 1:51.62 instead he decided to focus on the 1500m.
It was last years Bronze medalist Marco Vilog of Phil Airforce who set a formidable 51.6 first lap. In retrospect (John Lozada had ran 51.9 when he went onto set the Philippine Record of 1:47.77 in the Asian Grand Prix back in 2003). The gutsy first lap saw Vilog well ahead of the rest of the field. With Vilog straining to hold the pace his team mate Wenlie ‘The Fishman’ Maulas a perenial silver medalist at the National Champion began to make his move with 150m to go trying to chase down Vilog. Vilog held on with Fishman closing him down very quickly. Kesavan of Malaysia was third.
Vilog was happy for the win, and Maulas had to be content with another silver medal for his growing collection of silver medals at national championships. However Vilog thought he had maybe ran 1:52 something but was overjoyed to hear he had just ran 1:51.60 .02 seconds below the SEA Games qualification. With Wenlie Maulas also going home with some satisfaction from a new personal best time of 1:51.91.
The excitement soon became an issue when it was ruled Vilog still has another year in the PRISAA. And PRISAA rules would not allow him to play at the SEA Games as he may lose his scholarship. Also he had no accreditation and no Filipino passport so late in the selection process.
With this in mine the Fishman luck changed as he was selected to join Mervin Guarte in the SEA Games 800m due to the ineligibility of Vilog. It would be the first time 26 year old Wenlie would qualify for the SEA Games having given many years of loyal service to athletics as a multiple UAAP Champion in his younger years.
Later on the Fishman went onto end his streak of endless silver medals by winning the Singapore national title the following week.