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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Philippines Pride And Joy

August 11th, 2021 | Share via:

The previous week had been a reason for the Philippines to celebrate amidst the pandemic. A break from the ordeal the country and the world are facing, the much anticipated Tokyo Olympics. The Olympic Game is an athletic festival that originated in Athens, Greece, made in the honor of the Greek god, Zeus. It was originally held every four years in the Peloponnese peninsula in Olympia.

The first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896, with 280 athletes from 12 nations competing in 43 events. The Olympic Summer and Winter Games have been staged individually since 1994, alternately every two years. Several of the sports that are currently part of the Summer Games program were included in the ancient Olympic Games, which at times comprised competitions in as many as 32 distinct sports. The Winter Games were established in 1924 to promote winter sports. The Olympic Games have grown to be recognized as the world's premier sporting event and have become famous in every nation.

The much-anticipated 2020 Tokyo Olympics opened on July 23, 2021, in a National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan's capital. The Covid-19 Pandemic caused a one-year delay. The celebration began with a firework display and a minute of silence in memory of those who died in Covid-19. There were 205 athletes from various nations making their way inside the stadium, bearing their flags as well as their blazing enthusiasm and commitment. Japanese Emperor Naruhito proclaimed the 2020 Olympic Games fully open.

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Philippine Olympians

Representing the Philippines are 19 delegates who hunt to win the first Olympic gold. The Philippines pinned its hopes for the country's participation, not are not only Philippine Olympians but world champions and world-ranked athletes who have a good chance of realizing the elusive golden dream. Get to know our country’s pride and treasure who competed in the recently finished Olympic games.

EJ Obiena


Ernest John Obieda, or commonly known as EJ Obieda, is a 25-year-old pole vaulter. He is the first Filipino who qualified to join the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after his golden performance at  Salto Con L'asta in Chiari, Italy, in September 2019. Coming from a family of athletes, his father, Emerson, was a former international record holder and Southeast Asian (SEA) Games silver and bronze winner. His mother, Jeanette, was a hurdler in college; and his sister, Emily, followed in his footsteps and became a pole vaulter.

Obiena began pole vaulting at the age of six after watching his father succeed at the sport. Considering his family’s athletic background, he got support and encouragement from them to continue pole vaulting, which led to university scholarships at the Ateneo De Manila University and the University of Santo Tomas.

On August 3, at the Olympic Stadium, EJ Obiena finished 11th in the men's pole vault event, which was won by Sweden's Armand Duplantis. Obiena was eliminated from the men's pole vault final after failing to reach 5.80 meters in three tries. The Filipino pole vaulter objected to his third try, raising to officials that the bar was shifting as the clock was ticking. However, after being granted his fourth and last chance to beat the Olympic qualifying standard time, he committed a critical foul, knocking him out of the competition.

Yuka Sako


Yuka Saso was born on the 20th of June 2001 to a Japanese father and a Filipina mother. She began playing against older junior golfers when she was nine years old, and she represented the Philippines in an international competition for the first time at the 2011 US Kids golf tournament.

Saso also helped the Philippines hold the 2014 ASEAN School Games in Marikina. She made a significant breakthrough in the Philippine sports landscape when she won two gold medals in the Asian Games golf competition in 2018. She went professional in the Japan LPGA in 2020 and won two consecutive titles in her first season.

She matched South Korean golfer Inbee Park as the youngest winner of the oldest women's major golf championship, at 19 years, 11 months, and 17 days.

Yuka Saso closed her Tokyo Olympic 2020 career on a high note, rising from 47th position in the first round to a joint ninth-place finish.

Bianca Pagdanganan

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Bianca Isabel Pagdanganan was born on October 28, 1997, in Quezon City to Filipino parents.

Pagdanganan's father introduced her to golf at an early age. The golfer grew up in the Philippines then moved to the United States for college, but as a youngster, she would accompany her father on weekends when he went golfing. The young Pagdanganan would smash a few golf balls about at the driving range and eventually acquire a talent for the sport.

She won first place in the women's team event and third place in the individual stroke play at the Asian Games in 2018. Pagdanganan became a professional golfer in January 2020 after receiving her LPGA Tour card, and she has been competing on LPGA Tours for the past two years.

Pagdanganan slipped 14 seats in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for 43rd position after the competition opened on the equal seventh.

The 23-year-old power player birded the 8th, but engaged in bogeys in holes 1 and 12 and cut short her debut Olympic stay on the final hole with a double buggy. At the end of four rounds, she scored a three-over-par 74 and finished up with the 1-over par 285.

Juvic Pangunsan

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Juvic Pangunsan is a 43-year-old professional Philippine golfer. He has been active in the Philippine golfing scene since the 2000s.

He became a professional in 2006 and has since competed in events such as the Japan Golf Tour, Asian Tour, European Tour, and the Open Championship. He represented the country at the SEA Games in 2001 and 2005, where he won three gold medals and a bronze medal. Tokyo Olympics 2020 is his first Olympic participation, a decade and a half into his brilliant career.

Filipino golfer Juvic Pagunsan finished his 2020 Olympics in the American Xander Schauffele men's golf event at the Kasumigaseki Golf and Country Club on Sunday, August 1.

With a one-under-par 70, Pagunsan managed to bounce back on his brilliants performances for a total of one-over-par 285 in the final round. His three, fifth, and sixth holes bird, but the remaining holes bogeyed as he settled for 11 straight pars.

Kiyomi Watanabe

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Kiyomi Watanabe is a 24-year-old first Filipino judoka to qualify for the Olympics. She is an Asian Games silver medalist and four-time Southeast Asian Games gold medal winner.

According to the International Jude Federation's official qualifying, she earned her ticket to the Tokyo Games after being given qualification by the continental quota in the women's Under-63kg class (IJF).

Kiyomi Watanabe's Tokyo 2020 Olympic campaign came to an end on Tuesday, July 27, when she was defeated by world No. 37 Cristina Cabana Perez of Spain in the women's -63kg category at the Nippon Budokan.

Elreen Ando

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Elreen Ann Ando is a Filipina weightlifter born on the 1st of November 1998.  She began weightlifting as a junior high school student at the University of Cebu (UC) after weightlifting coach Garry Toleno noticed her.

Before her Olympic debut, the 22-year-old won two silvers and one bronze medal at the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Championship, as well as a silver medal at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Meanwhile, she has cited Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz as a constant source of encouragement during her preparation and Olympic competition.

Elreen Ando finished eighth in the women's 64 kg weightlifting event on Tuesday, July 27, at the Tokyo International Forum, in her first Olympic appearance.

In her debut on the greatest stage in sports, the 22-year-old Cebuana scored a 100kg snatch and a 122kg clean and jerk for a total of 222kg.

Discover more of Cebu in Discovering the Growth Center of the Northern Cebu: Bogo City, Cebu

Cris Nievarez

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Cris Nievarez is a 21-year-old Filipino rower and the only representative of the Philippine Rowing Association in the Tokyo Olympics.

He is the third Filipino rower to compete in the quadrennial Games, following his coach Edgardo Maerina and Benjie Tolentino, who qualified in 1988 and 2000, respectively.

Nievarez qualified for the Olympics by finishing ninth in the World Rowing Asia Oceania Continental Qualification Regatta in 2021. Only five spots were available, but the eventual fourth- through eighth-placed rowers were already on their way to Tokyo, and Nievarez took the final spot.

In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, He finished 23rd in the men's single sculls after the final phase on Friday at the Sea Forest Waterway in the Japanese capital.

Nievarez finished sixth in the Division D final, finishing in at seven minutes and 21.28 seconds, over 18 seconds behind then race winner Vladislav Yakovlev of Kazakhstan.

Kurt Barbosa

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Kurt Barbosa is a Filipino athlete and model. He is a native of Bangued, Abra. He participated in the UAAP 81st Season and led the championship as the most valuable player and as the Rookie of the Year.

In 2019, he joined the Philippine National Team. He also took part in the 30th SEA Games in the same year as the national squad and hit gold in the 54 kg men's division.

Although the first Philippine spotlight to bow out from the Tokyo Olympics, Kurt Barbosa refused to settle down on his loss and looked at his brief Olympic debut on the positive side.

Barbosa pledged to learn from his experience in Japan and the years to come, to continue to strive for the Olympic gold.

Jayson Valdez

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Jayson Valdez has a family member with an athletic history, like several of the other athletes. His father is Julius Valdez, the three-time champion of the SEA Games.

Since Paul Brian Rosario, in 2012, Valdez is the first Filipino shooting game to compete in Olympics. At the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, he won silver.

Valdez was not able to cut the top eight as he finished 44th out of 47 in the men's 10m air gun qualifying round. After scoring a total of 101.1 points in the first round, the Philippines' scorer got 612.6, averaging 102.1, 100.5, 101.6, 30, 103.6, 5, and 102.1 in the sixth and final round.

Kristina Knott

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Kristina Marie Knott is a track and field athlete born  on Sept. 25, 1995, to an American father and a Filipina mother. She holds the Philippine national record in the women's 200-meter dash. Knott made history in the 30th South-East Asian Games in 2019, breaking the women's 200m Games record with a 23.01-second lap. In the Games, she also won a total of two golds and two silvers.

After an 11.27sec time at the 2020 Drake Blue Oval Showcase at Des Moines, Iowa, she broke Lydia de Vega-33year-old Mercado's 100m national record in Iowa.

Kristina Knott failed to proceed further in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics athletics event after clocking 23.80 seconds and placing fifth and last in heat 7 of the women's 200m run at the Olympic Stadium.

Remedy Rule

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Remedy Alexis Rule is a 24-year-old Filipino swimmer. Rule began swimming when she was 10 years old, intending to qualify for the Summer Olympics. She previously brought honor to the Philippines by winning two silvers and two bronzes at the 2019 SEA Games.

She had a time of 2min 9.58sec in the 200m butterfly at the 2020 TYR Pro Swim Series in Des Moines to reach the Olympic cut of 2:12.28. She also won the women's 200m freestyle in 2:09.35 seconds at the same event.

On the semi-finals of women's 200-meter butterfly, Remedy Rule bowed away from Tokyo's Olympics. Rule clocked the second heat for 15th place overall in 2 minutes and 12.89 seconds.

Luke Gebbie

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Luke Gebbie is a 24-year-old swimmer. He was born to a Kiwi father and a Filipino mother. He broke the national record in the men's 100m freestyle at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, with a timing of 49.94 seconds, while also breaking the Olympic Standard Time of 50.03sec. Luke Gebbie boarded the Olympic bus after amassing the most FINA points in the Philippines (828).

Luke Gebbie closed the Philippine swimming team's Olympic campaign in the men's 50m freestyle heats on Friday, July 30, at the Tokyo Aquatic Center. Gebbie won his heat in 22.84 seconds, however, he didn't reach the top 16 swimmer-cut in the event, which included ten heats.

Carlos Yulo

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The 21-year old gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo was born and raised in Leveriza Street, Malate, Manila, near the Rizal Memorial stadium.

He started his gymnast career at the age of seven when his grandfather Rodrigo Francisco watch him as he does some flips in the playground.

Because of that, his grandfather decided to enroll him in the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP). Following it, he was also provided free training by Philippine Sports Commission at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

In 2008, as part of the National Capital Region gymnastics squad, he also began his game involvement. In 2011, the years of practice were successful when he won four gold medals in Palarong Pambansa 2011.

At the age of 18, Carlos Yulo took part in the 2018 World Cup Senior League Gymnastics series. His Melbourne, Baku, Doha, and Cottbus tournaments were his favorite tenure. He played at the 2018 Asian Games just after it. He was also at the Doha 2018 World Championships in artistic gymnastics. All in all, during the floor exercise, he carried the bronze medal home.

He became the 2019 World Champion of Artistic Gymnastics in Stuttgart, Germany, not long thereafter. He packed gold into his pommel, silver, still rings, vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar in the exercise all around, and the floor exercise.

Furthermore, at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, he won direct qualification to participate in the Philippines. Following pole vault EJ Obiena, Yulo was therefore the second Filipino qualifier.

Carlos Yulo lands at 4th place in Tokyo’s men artistic gymnastic vault finals scoring 14.566 in his first attempt and 14.866 in his second attempt. Yulo averages 14.716 for both vaults. He nailed a final score of 14.716, falling short of a fraction of a point at 0.017 from bronze medalist Artur Davtyan of Armenia.

Although he couldn't get the gold, after seeing his score the 21-year-old gymnast flashed a wide smile. After earning only 13,566 for a 44th overall, he fell short at his animal floor training event and won the 2019 World Gold Championship. Yulo was the most distinguished Filipino athlete at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, with two gold medals and five silver medals.

Margielyn Didal


Margielyn Didal, a gold medalist in the 2018 Asian Games, is a street skateboarder from the Philippines with huge aspirations.

Didal, a street skater from Cebu, Philippines, began skating at the age of 12 at the late Concave Park. When that haven closed, she was left to practice her skate skills in the urban jungle, dodging security guards and being prohibited from retail malls all across town. Margie won gold in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, seven years after she first tried skateboarding.

More success came in December 2019, when she won gold in the Southeast Asian Games, before finishing third in the who's who of the Tampa Women's Open in early 2020.

Margie utilizes her ability as a vehicle to inspire and uplift; she is a pioneer not just in Asian skating, but also in women's representation in skateboarding internationally. "Skateboarding is similar to life in that you get back up and keep going no matter how many times you fail. It's my entire existence," Didal said.

Margielyn Didal finished in the seventh position at the Ariake Urban Sports Park on the 26th of July in her Tokyo 2020 Olympics campaign.

She may not win the gold, but she surely won the heart of her supporters because of her charisma, personality, and resilient performance at the Tokyo Olympics.

Just like Margielyn Didal’s charisma and smiles, be captured by the City of Smiles, Bacolod.

Eumir Marcial

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Eumir Marcial is a 25-year-old Filipino boxer born on October 25, 1995, in Zamboanga City. Marcial, like many athletes, comes from a boxing family. In 2006, his cousin was a member of the national squad, while his father, Eulalio, trained young boxers in Zamboanga. His father introduced him to boxing and continues to be his major influence in his life. Boxing eventually became a significant source of income for Marcial and his family, and he competed in local boxing contests to help support the family.

In the 2015, 2017, and 2019 Southeast Asia Games, the middleweight boxer represented the Philippines (he is a three-time gold medalist) and was the bronze medalist of the Asian Games 2018. He was the world champion of 2019, when he earned a silver medal, but failed to qualify for the London Summer Olympics.

Eumir Marcial’s journey in Tokyo Olympics ended with him getting the bronze medal. He paid tribute to his Olympic tormentor Oleksandr Khyzhniak after accepting his close split decision loss to the Ukrainian in the men's middleweight semifinals, which forced him to withdraw from the Tokyo Games.

The Filipino fighter acknowledged he ran out of steam in their defensive match, as a machine-like Khyzhniak put the pressure on from start to finish despite taking hard blows from Marcial.

Three judges scored the fight in favor of Khyzhniak (30-27, 29-28, 29-28), while two judges scored it in favor of Marcial (29-28, 29-28). "I gave it all I had to win, but that was the decision," Marcial told an American journalist. "I am confident that God has plans for me. This bronze is gold to me," he added.

Nesthy Petecio


Nesthy Petacio started her journey at the age of 7 in her hometown in Tuban, Davao del Sur.

“My first opponent was a man,” she revealed during an interview for a TrueID documentary. “Not to boast, but I was completely fearless. I was more ecstatic. I wanted to demonstrate to them that women can compete with men”.

She confessed that she had always been boyish, even as a child. She enjoyed basketball and dabbled in athletics, but she quickly fell in love with boxing.

The Davao native made her debut appearance on the podium in the 2011 SEA Games in Jakarta, where she won silver in the bantamweight class. She also earned her first bronze medal the following year in the Asian Amateur Boxing Championships in Ulan Bataar, Mongolia.

Petecio advanced to the featherweight class in 2013, where she won a silver medal at the SEA Games in Myanmar.

Her remarkable performance in the featherweight class earned her a spot in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Petecio did not win a medal at the time, but she more than made up for it by winning silver at the 2014 World Championships in Jeju.

Petecio had to settle for another silver medal in the Singapore SEA Games in 2015, prompting her to return to the bantamweight class two months later at the 2015 Asian Championships in Wulanchabu, China.

Nesthy ended her 2020 Tokyo Olympic journey winning the silver medal, which is a first for the Philippines in the Tokyo Games.

It is also the country's first Olympic medal in boxing since Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco won silver in light flyweight at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Carlo Paalam

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Carlo Paalam, a 23-year-old Bukidnon Boxer, changed his life when he started his boxing journey. Carlo's main reason for pursuing the sport was surviving the hardscrabble life. When his parents divorced, he was just six years old, and he learned to support himself and his family by scavenging on the streets. Life was difficult, but boxing taught him that individuals like him may still hope for a better life.

In several of his talks, the athlete from Bukidnon would warmly recollect the first time he donned boxing gloves and headgear. Carlo, then nine, was on his way home from church when he came upon a father-and-son training session in their Cagayan de Oro area. Carlo was invited to spar with the youngster. The winner would receive a bottle of Coke.

Carlo, who had no prior experience in the sport, was naturally insistent. He said to Radyo Pilipinas, "Naturally, I was afraid”. He would fight with a few children, certainly, but the youngster was different. But at the age of nine, Carlo reminded Inquirer that it was hard to say no to a Coke bottle. He already had no possibility of turning back with his boxing gloves and headgear. He had his very first boxing jab that day.

He won his first boxing fight in a local competition and used the proceeds to purchase rice. He was found by CDO officials at these “Boxing at the Park” contests, who took him under their wing, provided him a monthly allowance, and helped him go through school.

He was finally scouted by the national squad and has been representing the Philippines in international competitions since 2016, when he won bronze at the AIBA Youth Asian and World Championships.

Carlo Paalam's Tokyo 2020 Olympics journey ended with silver after falling to Great Britain's Galal Yafai via a 4-1 split decision in the boxing tournament's men's flyweight final on Saturday, August 7, at the Kokugikan arena.

His life wasn’t easy but the former scavenger made his breakthrough and inspired a lot of people with his boxing journey.

Hidilyn Diaz

tokyo olympics 2020 philippine delegates
tokyo olympics 2020 philippine delegates


The first Filipino Olympic gold medalist, the 30-year old weightlifter, Hidilyn Diaz. Diaz, who is now one of the most famous Filipino Olympians, had modest beginnings before becoming a weightlifting sensation.

Allen Jayfrus Diaz, her cousin, introduced her to the sport by utilizing improvised barbells constructed of plastic pipes and concrete weights shaped like tin cans.

Despite her experience selling vegetables and fish with her father, a tricycle driver, the young Diaz was highly interested in sports and attempted basketball and volleyball.

However, as she focused on weightlifting, she was able to travel throughout the world and received a scholarship to Universidad de Zamboanga. She attended school until college, where she majored in computer science before dropping out after her third year to focus on the sport.

Diaz is the first Filipina athlete to compete in four consecutive Olympic Games. The Zamboanga native was a weightlifting prodigy who made her Olympic debut in 2008 at the age of 17 in Beijing. She received a wild card entrance and was the delegation's youngest member.

Diaz qualified for the 2012 London Olympics once more but received a heartbreaking "did not finish" result. However, she made history as the first Filipina Olympic silver medalist in the women's 53kg category in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 30-year-old weightlifter secured a Tokyo 2020 spot after completing the six needed Olympic qualifiers at the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Championships, marking her fourth consecutive Olympic appearance.

Hidilyn Diaz stopped at nothing to get the gold. On her fourth Olympic appearance, she became the first Filipino Olympic gold medalist. In an interview, Hidilyn Diaz reflected on the dreamlike nature of her most recent accomplishment, “I still can't believe I got gold,” she said in Filipino. “I still can't believe it now that I'm holding the medal.” She has good reason to be surprised. Diaz has never lifted 127 kgs before. Not even when in training.

Her gold medal win in Tokyo was formed by a 127-kilogram clean and jerk, which became the Olympic record in the 55-kg women's weightlifting category - fed into a 224-kg total, also an Olympic record.

Finally, after her long journey and attempt of winning the gold. She finally brings home the first gold Olympic medal the Philippines has been longing for. In the recently concluded 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Philippines had won four Olympic medals in total. One in gold, two in silver, and one in bronze.

Watching the Filipino Olympians certainly brought pride and joy to Filipinos worldwide. If you missed the chance, don’t sulk up, you may still catch the highlights online. After which, why not check as well the top movies for a movie night for that complete weekend breather.

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