2021 will forever be marked in Philippine history as a year of pride and glory in the Olympics. Thanks to the hardworking and highly motivated Pinoy athletes who are still giving us reasons to celebrate despite our country’s challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics has been a source of good news for our country so far.
With Hidilyn Diaz’s gold medal win and the assured podium finish of Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial from the country’s most productive sport, boxing, the Philippines is set to break another record. The country is positioned to replicate the multi-medal count we had in 1932, but this time, with three possible golds.
With Carlos Yulo for gymnastics, EJ Obiena for Pole Vault, Yuka Saso, and Bianca Pagdanganan for Golf still waiting for their turn, the current count we have could still increase.
Timeline of the Philippines’ run in the Olympics
The country sent 21 delegates to compete in various sports and categories in the Tokyo Olympics – producing one gold and two assured podium finishes. Even before the Olympics ends, this can already be considered the country’s best run since 1932, when we bagged three bronze medals.
1932 also marked another record in Philippine sport when Teofilo Yldefonso, the first Filipino Olympic medalist, won another medal, becoming the first Filipino to have back-to-back Olympic medals.
In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the Philippines won its first Silver medal and first in boxing. Fast forward to 2021, same venue, same host country, Hidilyn Diaz replicated this feat – surpassing the previous record with her Silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics and Gold in the Tokyo Olympics. Her win was a momentous event celebrated by the country that might as well be dubbed as history repeating itself; the only difference is the color of the medal.
But Diaz’s feat is not the only thing we won, so far, in the Tokyo Olympics. Along with our athletes’ great outing, the Philippine sport has once again taken the spotlight. It highlighted Filipino athletes and the state of Philippine sport along with it.
Her win and the projected wins of Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Marcial, and the rest of the athletes still in the run for a podium finish have sparked hopes. They have seemingly redeemed the spirits of the country’s athletes and future Olympians.
WHY DID IT TAKE 89 YEARS?
The Philippines is one of the first and oldest countries to participate in the Olympiad. We first joined in 1924 and proceeded to win our first Olympic medal in 1928. Come 1932; three athletes set the country’s multi-medal haul. Simeon Torribio, Jose Villanueva, and Teofilo Ylfedonso made this history in Los Angeles, USA. While we made some strides in the 1964 and 2016 Olympics, it took us 89 years to surpass the feat by Torribio, Yldefonso, and Villanueva in 1932.
It could be recalled that Hidilyn Diaz became vocal about the state of weightlifting in the country. Aside from her, other athletes and Olympians also expressed the lack of support for their respective sports. While we could only assume things concerning the actual state of Philippine sports, we do know for a fact, however, that if funding and facilities are already difficult to come by, our athletes struggle to train and perfect their craft as well. This could then be a factor as to why it took us nearly a century to bring home multiple medals.
MEDALS ARE NOT EVERYTHING
With the 2021 historic run of the Philippines in the Olympics, if there is one thing that we can take away from it, aside from pride and recognition, it’s the fact that we have to pay attention to our athletes who spend the majority of their lives to serve the country and move mountains to get to that top podium.
Didn’t it feel so good to hear our national anthem played in the Olympics? In the arena of the bests in the world? That, in itself, is a feat that we can all be proud of. It will be written in history books. But we should remember that behind the medal, spectacle, and cheers, there are people behind it. These people are the ones who dedicate their time, blood, and sweat to remind us how good it is to be Filipinos.
They deserve all the accolades and praises for answering the call of a nation that has been beaten ofttimes. These came at a time when our country could use some encouragement and uplifting. These are the people who chose to carry on and raise our flag. The same people who chose to keep the fire burning. These are our champions.
Our #PinoyPride is alive and kicking. Now, it’s up to us to keep this spirit alive. By supporting our athletes, and all the people behind our brave athletes, medals or no medals. They are our champions, even before they set foot in their respective battlegrounds. To carry the Philippine flag on their chests is already an accomplishment. They become the symbols of a nation beaming with pride.