Year of Redemption – Manila Bulletin

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Decades of Frustration COVID Threat Could Not Stop Athletes From Winning

Olympic medalists, left to right, Carlo Paalam, Hidilyn Diaz, Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Felix Marcial (Photo from Hidilyn Diaz’s Facebook page)

In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, four national athletes cast a ray of hope for the Philippines by braving the land of the rising sun beaming high hopes at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics last July.

Consider it a golden year for the Philippine sports scene as weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, Rio 2016 Olympics silver medalist, finally won the elusive gold medal – a historic achievement as she became the first athlete to fulfill the mission of leading an event in the quadrennial event.

The national boxing team, under the auspices of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP), led by its leaders Ricky Vargas and Ed Picson, who was elected the organization’s new president, also took part. shown up to the occasion as Nesthy Petecio (featherweight) and Carlo Paalam (flyweight) won silver medals while Eumir Felix Marcial (middleweight), who has already won his first professional fight in December 2020 against Andrew Whitfield on American soil, settled for the bronze medal.

Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez was delighted with the performance not only of the four Olympic gold medalists, but also of the nineteen Filipino athletes who competed in the Tokyo Games.

“2021 was the product of the 2011-2021 financial support to more than 100 Filipino athletes for high-level training and competition abroad aimed at achieving medals at the Tokyo Olympics,” said Ramirez. “We have spent billions of money since 2016, no wonder we performed well at the Asian Games in Jakarta, [became a] champion at the SEA Games (South-East Asia) 2019 and [captured] a gold, 2 silver and a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Out of over 100 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, we had 19 athletes who qualified for Tokyo. And the results were very significant, ”added the head of the PSC.

Diaz topped the 55 kilogram category at the Tokyo International Forum, lifting a total of 224 kg highlighted by his Olympic record of 127 kg on his third and final clean and jerk attempt and the highest score in the snatch at 97 kg.

As she stood on the lifting platform, the 30-year-old athlete from Zamboanga found herself in a close battle against China’s world record holder Liao Qiuyun, just a kilo from the final mark. Filipinos.

Liao recorded 126kg in the clean and jerk and 97kg in the snatch, which gave Diaz heartwarming emotion and tears of joy as the famous HD team surrounded her, becoming the inaugural medalist of Philippine Olympic gold.

Moving to the Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena, a well-known sumo hall converted into a boxing hall for the Games, Petecio, Paalam and Marcial had their fair share of ups and downs in their boxing matches.

Petecio, 29, the cunning and quick boxer, settled for the silver medal in the featherweight final after giving in to a 5-0 sweep against the technical Japanese fighter in Sena Irie, who has already beaten the A native pugilist from Davao del Sur in qualifying for the 2018 Asian / Oceania Olympic Games in Amman, Jordan.

Young Paalam, 23, also finished with a silver medal after being overwhelmed by Great Britain’s Galal Yafai, 4-1, in the men’s flyweight final while Marcial, who recently tied the knot along with his longtime partner, Princess Galarpe, won bronze after breaking his heart. Defeat 3-2 against Ukrainian foe Oleksandr Khyzhniak in the middleweight semifinals.

“I hope and pray that in 2022, from the first six months on which we will be working [with] our successor in the middle of the year, I pray and I am very positive that we can maintain the performance of the last 2016-2021, ”added Ramirez.

While the four Tokyo medalists brought hope and pride to the country, the Philippine Olympic Committee, chaired by President Cong. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, in return, provided housing and lots in Tagaytay City.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg as Diaz and the boxing trio have also received monetary financial aid from left and right, recognitions, years and long-standing supplies, food and drink. , as well as discounts on airlines and accommodation as they have become today’s modern hero.

Meanwhile, Diaz had previously expressed a desire to see action at the Paris 2024 Olympics, possibly his swansong on the weightlifting scene, while boxers Petecio, Paalam and Marcial remain hungry in their respective gold medal hunt.


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