The Olympics are finally upon us. Sports fans and athletes were deprived of the quadrennial event in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the greatest athletic competition on earth is finally set to begin on July 23 of 2021 in Tokyo.
Every athlete’s dream is to wave the flag of their country in their respective sport in the Olympics and the Philippines is no different. These nine athletes hope to make the Pearl of the East proud and bring home that elusive gold medal.
Listed in alphabetical order.
The latest athlete to qualify for Tokyo, Barbosa clinched his berth after gutting out a last gasp win in the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament in Amman, Jordan.
Barbosa is the sole Taekwondo representative for the Philippines and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist hopes to fly the jins’ banner high in the Olympics when he competes in the 58-kg weight class.
Diaz needs no introduction to Filipino fans and the weightlifting world is sure to have their eyes on her at the Olympics. She might one up herself this year, bettering her runner up placing in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
She officially qualified for Tokyo by lifting a 90kg snatch in the Asian Weightlifting Championships held in April of this year.
Magno was the first Filipino to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics back in March of last year. That also makes her the first Filipina boxer to qualify for the Summer Games.
The Ilongga has been a staple of the Philippine national team for a long time, earning her first gold medal in an international competition back in 2012 at the Taiwan Open in Taipei. She represented the Philippines in the 2019 SEA Games ultimately finishing second. Here’s hoping she one ups that by gaining gold in the 2020 Olympic games.
Fourth on our list is also a long time staple in Philippine boxing. Marcial has been boxing since he was 6 and it shows as he is possibly the country’s best hope to gain gold after running roughshod against quality competition back in the Asia/Oceania qualifiers in 2020.
Here’s hoping the solidly built middleweight will continue his dominance over his division in the Olympics.
Rowing may not be a popular sport in the Philippines but maybe Nievarez can change that with a strong showing this summer games.
The Atimonan, Quezon native qualified for the Olympics early in May by making the semifinals of the World Rowing Asia Oceania Continental Qualification Regatta. The 21-year-old booked his place as the sole representative of the national rowing team and he looks to put forth a massive effort in the men’s lightweight single sculls.
The Philippines has a long line of greats in the field of athletics and EJ Obiena hopes to be the next household name. In fact, he might already be there as a 2019 SEA Games gold medalist and the current face of track and field.
Obiena qualified way back in 2020 and here’s hoping he soars the highest in Tokyo.
The 2019 SEA Games flyweight gold medalist earned his berth for the Olympics back in March. He has been a boxer for the national team since 2013 and he has garnered quite a few medals along the way.
The pride of Cagayan de Oro was a scavenger back when he was discovered at 9 years old and the Olympics may be the perfect ending of this rags to riches story if he wins a gold medal.
Another female boxer flying the flag of the Philippines is Nesthy Petecio. She has been training with the national team since she was 15 years old and she won many gold medals along her journey to the Olympics which she qualified for at the same time as Paalam.
The Davaoeña hopes to add another gold to her coffer in the Olympics and it’s safe to say that that will be the sweetest victory of them all.
This article was listed in alphabetical order to highlight how all the athletes are of equal footing but it seems funnily ironic that the last entry is possibly the face of all the Philippine Olympians in Tokyo.
Yulo burst on to the national consciousness by becoming the first ever Filipino world champion in gymnastics by winning gold in the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship held in Stuttgart.
The 21-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top and he hopes to add olympic gold to his laundry list of achievements in his young career.
All these athletes deserve the support of every Filipino. The Covid-19 pandemic has made us all wait for one more year for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but the wait is now over and it is time to spur on our champions to conquer the world.
Editors note: List will be updated if or when new athletes qualify
Photo sources: Philstar.com, rappler.com, news.abscbn.com, Manila Bulletin