These 19 Filipino athletes have excelled in their respective sports and are now going to represent the country in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In the 2016 Rio Olympics, 13 Filipino athletes represented the Philippines. Among those proudly wearing the colors of the country, only one won a medal: Hidilyn Diaz who won a silver in weightlifting. This time, the country is sending 19 athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This is the country’s largest delegation since the 2000 Sydney Olympics and with 10 of the 19 athletes being females, the most Filipino women to participate at a single Olympics in years. After a year-long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are set to go from July 23 – August 8, 2021. Here are the 19 Filipino athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and we’re rooting for.
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Ernest Obiena (Pole Vault)
Ernest Obiena became the first Filipino athlete to be qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. He did this by beating the qualifying standards during the Salto Con L’asta in Italy with his then-personal best of 5.81 m, just 0.1 of the Olympic benchmark of 5.80. This SEA Games gold medal-winning pole vaulter is currently training abroad and has done well in pole vaulting competitions in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.
Carlos Yulo (Gymnastics)
Gymnast Carlos Yulo became the second Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after he won the gold medal at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Germany. In doing so, he became the first-ever Southeast Asian male world champion in the competition’s history.
Eumir Marical (Boxing)
This Zamboanga native missed his chance to participate in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but redeemed himself for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He defeated his opponent in the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying tournament in Amman Jordan in March 2020, which qualified him for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics. This 3-time gold medal Filipino athlete in the SEA Games is set to participate in the men’s middleweight class (75 kg).
Irish Magno (Boxing)
Similar to Eumir Marical, Irish Magno got her spot for the Tokyo Olympics during the qualifiers in the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying tournament after she defeated her opponent via a unanimous decision. She is the first-ever Filipina boxer to qualify for the Olympics and is set to compete in the women’s flyweight class (52 kg).
Carlo Paalam (Boxing)
Carlo Paalam was able to join the 202 Tokyo Olympics by “virtue of their highest standing in their respective weight categories,” according to the International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force. This Filipino athlete won gold at the 2019 SEA Games and is set to compete in the men’s flyweight class (52 kg).
Nesthy Petecio (Boxing)
Nesthy Petecio joined the Tokyo Olympics the same way as Carlo Paalam. She won gold in the 2019 SEA Games and is set to participate in the woman’s featherweight class (57 kg). The addition of Paalam and Petecio means that there will be four Filipino boxers representing the Philippines. This is a significant increase from when Roger Ladon and Charlee Suarez participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Hidilyn Diaz (Weightlifting)
One of the more high-profile Filipino athletes to compete in the 2020 Olympics, Hidilyn secured her spot on April 18, 2021, at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Uzbekistan. She won silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics and is aiming for the gold this time around. This is her 4th time participating in the Olympics.
Margielyn Didal (Skateboarding)
22-year-old Margielyn Didal secured her spot in the Olympics when she ranked 13th in the world rankings. This will be the first time the summer Olympics will hold a skateboarding medal event and she is set to participate in the women’s street skateboarding. Previously, Margielyn won gold at the 2018 Asian Games and bagged two gold medals during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. She’s also been recognized by publications like TIME and Forbes as an athlete to watch out for and was awarded the 2021 Asia Skater of the Year award.
Yuka Saso (Golf)
After making history by being the first Filipino to win a major golf tournament when she won the 2021 US Women’s Open title, Yuka Saso is looking to make history again as she competes for Team Philippines in women’s golf. Yuka first gained prominence when she won two gold medals at the 2018 Asian Games and is currently ranked 8th in the women’s golf world. After the Olympics, watch out for Yuka as her win in the US Women’s Open qualified her to participate in the LPGA.
Bianca Pagdanganan (Golf)
Another female golfer on this list, 23-year-old Bianca Pangandanan is set to participate in women’s golf. She finished ninth place in the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championships. Like Yuka, Bianca has her fair share of medals like when she and Yuka won gold together during the 2018 Asian Games. In the same event, Bianca also won bronze for the individual event. She also took home a gold medal during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Juvic Pagunsan (Golf)
At 43 years old, Juvic Pagunsan is the oldest member of Team Philippines. But his age also brings with it experience. He has been playing golf professionally for years and won his first title in 2007. In 2021, he won the Mizuno Open in Japan and won a cash prize of around 5.2 million pesos. He secured his spot to compete in men’s golf via world rankings, where he sits in the top 15 quotas.
Kiyomi Watanabe (Judo)
Kiyomi Watanabe is the first Filipina to qualify for the judo coemption in the Tokyo Olympics. She got her spot when she ranked 41st in the world with 1,506 points in the women’s 63kg event. Kiyomi has 4 consecutive gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games to her name as well as a silver medal in the 2018 Asian Games. She, along with Eumir Marical, will take center stage in the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as she is the designated female flag bearer of the Philippines.
Elreen Ando (Weightlifting)
Hidilyn Diaz won’t be alone when she competes in the weightlifting category. Erleen Ando is set to participate in the Olympics in the weightlifting women’s 64kg event. The 22-year-old Cebuano native got her spot via continental allocation. She is currently the highest-ranked athlete in the International Weightlifting Federation and has won numerous medals including two silver and one bronze at the Asian Weightlifting Championships and a silver medal at the 2019 SEA Games.
Cris Nievarez (Rowing)
When Criz Nievarez became qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, he became the first Filipino in 20 years to compete in rowing. The last Filipino to qualify was Benjie Tolentino in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The 21-year-old rower won gold during his first-ever SEA Games in 2019 and will be the first Filipino athlete to compete in the 2020 Olympics as his event, rowing men’s single sculls is on Friday, July 23.
Kurt Barbosa (Taekwondo)
Kurt Barbosa first gained prominence in taekwondo when he represented National University in UAAP 81 and where he was named MVP and Rookie of the year. His ascent hasn’t stopped since as he easily bagged gold during the 2019 SEA Games. The 21-year-old Abra native got his spot when he won the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament under the men’s 58kg category.
Jayson Valdez (Shooting)
Jayson Valdez is participating in the men’s air rifle 10-meter event after he was given a quota slot by the International Shooting Federation. His inclusion will make him the first Filipino to participate in Olympic shooting since Paul Brian Rosario in the 2012 Games. The 25-year-old participated in the 2010 and 2018 Asian Games, 2019 Southeast Asian Games, and won a bronze medal in the 2015 SEA Games.
Kristina Knott (Sprinting)
Even though she has only been part of the country’s team for three years, Kristina Knott has been killing her competitions. In the 2019 SEA Games, she bagged 4 medals, including a gold. She also has two silver medals in the International Meeting of the City of Castiglione Della Pescaia in Italy. The Fil-Am sprinter also broke two records in a single day when she broke the record for the SEA Games at 23.7 seconds and her personal record at 23.01 seconds. She also broke Lydia De Vega’s 33 year-long record in the 100-meters, clocking 11.27 seconds in the 2020 Drake Blue Oval Showcase in Iowa, and setting a new national record in the process. She is set to participate in the women’s 200m sprint after qualifying via the universality rule.
Remedy Rule (Swimming)
Another Fil-Am on the list, Remedy Rule is set to participate in the women’s 200m freestyle swimming and women’s 200m butterfly swimming events. The 24-year-old currently holds the national record for the Philippines in the 200m butterfly at 2 minutes and 9.58 seconds while she has a personal best of 2 minutes and .35 seconds in the 200m freestyle. She got her spot via the universality rule of the International Swimming Federation where she got the highest point with 830 FINA points. Aside from this, she also won two medals, a silver, and bronze, during the 2019 SEA Games.
Luke Gebbie (Swimming)
The final Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Luke Gebbie is set to participate in the men’s 100m freestyle and 50m freestyle swimming events. Like his fellow swimmer Remedy, the 24-year-old Fil-Kiwi is a holder of a national record when he clocked 49.94 seconds in the 100m freestyle at the 2019 World Championships. He won a silver medal in the men’s 4×100 meter freestyle relay during the 2019 World Championships and a bronze medal in the men’s 50m freestyle event during the 2019 SEA Games.
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