Philippine Athletes in Rio

Article By: Josh Miller

Every four years, the best athletes from all over the globe gather to compete in the Summer Olympics. This year, the world’s best have flown to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to vie for supremacy in their respective events and olympic immortality.

With the Rio Olympic Games now in full swing, and the spotlight set on  world-renowned athletes like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, a new generation of superstars from all over the globe looks to make a name for themselves, the Philippines’ team included. The Philippines first sent athletes to compete at the Olympics in the 1924 Paris Games and has participated in nearly every edition of the Games since. The Rio Olympics games will hence mark the 21st edition of the Summer Olympics in which a contingent of athletes from the Philippines has attended. This year, the Philippines Team is composed of 12 athletes and 10 coaches from 9 different sports, 6 officials, and 1 caddy.

Headlining the team are star 400m hurdler Eric Cray and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz. Cray is known for his back-to-back gold medals at the 2013 and 2015 South-East Asian (SEA) Games in the Men’s 400m Hurdles event. Prior to flying out to Rio, Cray expressed confidence going into the Olympic heats. As of writing, Cray finished third in his heat of the 400m Hurdles at Rio with a time of 49.05s. This time sends him to the semi-finals where he will run the event again hoping to qualify for the finals. Diaz, on the other hand, went to Rio for the Women’s 53kg category in Olympic Weightlifting. Her snatch of 88kg earned her a respectable 6th place overall, but her 112kg Clean and Jerk won her the silver. Diaz won the Philippines its 10th olympic medal with the country’s last medal belonging to retired boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, another silver medalist in the light flyweight competition from the 1996 Atlanta Games. Other Filipino athletes in Rio include Jessie Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi for Swimming, Nestor Colonia for Weightlifting, Ian Lariba for Table Tennis, Miguel Tabuena for Golf, Marestella Tunang and Mary Joy Tabal for Athletics, Kirstie Alora for Taekwondo, Kodo Nakano for Judo, and Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez for Boxing.

With the Games nearing its conclusion, most of the Filipino athletes were unable to medal in their respective events. However, the end to the country’s 20-year olympic medal drought will surely inspire yet another generation of athletes among the nation’s youth. Maybe next time, the country will send someone who will finally bring home the gold!

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