Tokyo Olympics 2021: Get to know the 19 athletes representing the Philippines 

SINCE it first participated in the Olympics in 1924, the Philippines has managed to take home a total of 10 medals, of which three were silver and seven were bronze.

No Filipino has ever won a gold medal, but the country is certainly not giving up on that elusive golden dream.

The 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which was pushed back a year due to the pandemic, is set to take place from July 23 to August 8. As the anticipated games begin, the country has pinned its hopes on its 19-strong contingent in bringing home the much-coveted gold.

This year, the Philippines is sending the largest athlete delegation since the 2000 Sydney games. The 2021 team also gives a historic nod to representation, with 10 of its 19 hopefuls being Filipinas.

Here are the athletes who will be representing the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics:

Carlos Yulo Philstar.com file photo

1. Carlos Yulo (Gymnastics)

Yulo ruled the men’s floor exercise in the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics in Stuttgart, Germany, becoming the first Filipino and Southeast Asian male to win the gold in the category. The historic feat also qualified him directly for the Tokyo Olympics.

In the 2019 SEA Games, he took home the most medals for the Philippines — two golds and five silvers.

Rio Olympics Weightlifting Women. Hidilyn Diaz Philstar.com file photo

2. Hidilyn Diaz (Weightlifting)

Diaz ended a twenty-year medal drought for the country when she snagged the silver medal in the 53kg weightlifting division during the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was also the first Filipina athlete to step onto an Olympic podium.

To qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, she lifted 90kg in two attempts during the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

EJ Obiena | Photo courtesy of the Philippine Sports Commission

3. EJ Obiena (Pole Vault)

Obiena set the new Philippine record twice last month with a 5.85 meter jump for the gold medal in the Jump and Fly Meet in Mossingen, Germany, and a 5.87 meter jump for the silver in the Irena Szewinska Memorial-Bydgoszcz in Poland.

He was the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after surpassing the Olympic benchmark of 5.80, clearing 5.81m in Piazza Chiari, Italy in September 2019.

Yuka Saso | Photo courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

4. Yuka Saso (Women’s golf)

Saso became the first Filipina to win the 76th U.S. Women’s Open golf championship in San Francisco last month. With her victory, she not only qualified for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), but also for the Tokyo Olympics.

The 2018 Asian Games double gold medalist ranked No. 9 in the women’s world golf this year.

Kristina Knott Philstar.com file photo

5. Kristina Knott (Women’s 200m)

Knott set the Philippines’ national record for the 200 meters sprint by recording 23.01 seconds in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Last year, she also eclipsed the 33-year-old record of 11.28 set by Filipina sports legend Lydia de Vega-Mercado by clearing 11.27 seconds during the Drake Blue Oval Showcase meet at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.

Cris Nievarez

6. Cris Nievarez (Rowing)

Nievarez became the first Filipino rower to qualify for the Olympics since Benjie Tolentino in the 2000 Sydney Games. He was able to secure a spot in the Philippine delegation by virtue of continental qualification regattas.

During the 2019 Southeast Asian games, Nievarez clocked 7:34.27 seconds in the 2000-meter, taking home the gold medal.

Irish Magno | Photo courtesy of Irish Magno

7. Irish Magno (Boxing)

Magno earned a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics after winning against Sumaiya Qosimova of Tajikistan in the 2020 Asia and Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament in Jordan.

She was the first Filipina to qualify for the Olympics, the second boxer, and the fourth overall to be part of the country’s delegation.

Margielyn Didal

8. Margielyn Didal (Skateboarding)

Didal bagged this year’s Asia Skater of the Year award.

She rose to prominence after winning a gold medal for the Philippines in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. She also took home two gold medals during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Eumir Marcial

9. Eumir Marcial (Boxing)

Marcial punched his ticket to the Games by winning the gold in the Tokyo 2020 Asia and Oceania Olympic qualifiers. Later, he went pro and won his professional debut fight.

He will be the male flag bearer for the Philippine team in the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.

Kiyomi Watanabe | Philstar.com file photo

10. Kiyomi Watanabe (Judo)

Watanabe earned the Philippines’ first silver medal in the 2018 Asian Games. She also bagged four gold medals during the 2019 SEA Games. She is set to take the stage alongside Marcial in the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony as the female flag bearer of the country.

Jayson Valdez | Photo courtesy of Facebook

11. Jayson Valdez (Shooting)

Valdez set the Philippine record of 618.6 points for 10-meter air rifle in the 2018 Asian Games. He was the only shooter to book a ticket to the Games, and the first one to compete since Paul Brian Rosario in the 2012 London Games. He qualified by virtue of a quota allocation from the International Shooting Sport Federation.

Kurt Barbosa | Photo from Jordan Taekwondo Federation

12. Kurt Barbosa (Taekwondo)

Barbosa was named both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) in 2018. To earn his spot in the Olympics, he rallied from a double-digit deficit in the third round to stun Jordan’s Zaid Al-Halawani, sealing the win at 50-49 in the men’s -58kg semifinals.

Carlo Paalam | Photo courtesy of Facebook

13. Carlo Paalam (Boxing)

Paalam secured a spot in the Games through the International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force rankings. He is the youngest boxer in the Tokyo-bound Philippine delegation.During the 2019 SEA Games, Paalam bagged his career’s first gold medal.

14. Nesthy Petecio (Boxing)

Petecio ended the country’s seven-year gold medal drought after winning the gold in the Amateur Asian Boxing Association (AIBA) women’s boxing world championship in 2019. She also took home the gold in that year’s Southeast Asian Games. Ranking No. 2 in women’s 57kg AIBA world rankings, Petecio qualified for the summer games via world rankings.

Luke Gebbie

15. Luke Gebbie (Swimming)

Gebbie set the Philippine record of 49.94 seconds in the 100m freestyle during the 2019 FINA World Championships. He also surpassed the FINA B cut of 22.67 seconds after clocking 22.57 seconds in the 2021 Australian Olympic Trials in June. During the 2019 SEA Games, he won a bronze medal in the men’s 50m freestyle event.

Remedy Rule

16. Remedy Rule (Swimming)

Rule set the national record for the Philippines in 200-m butterfly after she clocked in at two minutes and 9.58 seconds at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Des Moines, Iowa. She will be the country’s representative in the 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly events of the Olympics.

Bianca Pagdanganan | Photo courtesy of the USGA

17. Bianca Pagdanganan (Women’s Golf)

Pagdanganan won the country’s first gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Prior to that, she was a dual medalist in the Asian Games with her bronze medal in the women’s individual event and a gold in the team event. She is currently ranked No. 43 in the world.

Juvic Pagunsan | Photo courtesy of Mizuno Golf’s Facebook Page

18. Juvic Pagunsan (Men’s Golf)

Pagunsan ruled the 2021 Mizuno Open, claiming his first Japan Golf Tour title. He joined the Philippine contingent as its oldest member at 43 years old.

Elreen Ando

19. Elreen Ando (Weightlifting)

Ando qualified for the Tokyo Olympics via continental allocation in the women’s -64kg event. She is the highest-ranked athlete in the International Weightlifting Federation.

During the 2019 SEA Games, she took home a silver medal. Meanwhile, in the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Championships in Uzbekistan, she managed to claim two silver medals and a bronze. n

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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