Philippines ends Tokyo Olympics stint in historic groove

Philippines ends Tokyo Olympics stint in historic groove

Eumir Marcial (left) and Kiyomi Watanabe (right) hold the Philippine flag during the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremonies. IOC

By Gil Mar Moriones

MANILA--As the Olympics is on its penultimate day, the Philippine team already wrapped up its campaign with a gold, two silvers, and a bronze medal in what proved to be its best showing since the country joined the sporting spectacle in 1924.

The campaign of the 19-man delegation formally ended on Saturday afternoon courtesy of the silver medal finish of boxer Carlo Paalam, who put up a gallant stand against Great Britain's Galal Yafai before falling short via a 4-1 split decision verdict in the men's flyweight category final.

The Philippines thus eclipsed its previous best record set in the 1932 Los Angeles Games, where it garnered three bronze medals.

Hidilyn Diaz headlined the delegation with her gold medal performance in the women's 55 kg class in weightlifting, beating the likes of powerhouse China and Kazakhstan for the country's first-ever gold medal.

Diaz also became the second Filipino athlete, next to legendary swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso in 1928 and 1932, to amass medals in back-to-back Olympiads.

She earlier claimed the silver medal back in Rio 2016.

Boxing, ever the source of Olympic medals, contributed three in Tokyo, silvers courtesy of Nesthy Petecio and Paalam, and a bronze medal coming from middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial.

The Davao-born Petecio, who settled for a silver medal after a loss to hometown bet Sena Irie in the women's featherweight final, earlier ended the 25-year medal drought in Olympic Boxing since Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco's silver-medal finish in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Marcial stormed into the first two stages of his class before getting stopped by eventual silver medalist Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine in the semifinals.

The country also finished as the ninth-best Asian country in the quadrennial meet, and the best ASEAN country.

Furthermore, it is also the first time in Olympic history that both men and women will bring a medal for the Philippines.

As promised, all four medalists will be given cash incentives through Republic Act 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.

The 15 non-medalist athletes from the delegation are expected to receive P500,000 pesos each from the Philippine Olympic President (POC) in partnership with Manny V. Pangilinan's MVP Sports Foundation.

Also competed and represented the country in the Games were rower Cris Nievarez, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, shooter Jayson Valdez, gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxer Irish Magno, judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, weightlifter Elreen Ando, runner Kristina Knott, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, golfers Juvic Pangusan, Yuka Saso, and Bianca Pagdanganan, and swimmers Remedy Rule and Luke Gebbie.

The country is now setting sights on the next competitions, like the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, and the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, hoping to again qualify for the next Olympics, which Paris will host in 2024.

Follow him on Twitter: @gilpuyatstation

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