//Olympics 2024

5 Burning Questions For the Philippines Ahead of the Paris Olympics

All eyes will be on the Philippines as they enter the Paris Olympics after a historic medal haul four years ago, on top of celebrating their centennial year of participation in the games.

Just like that, we’re only weeks away from the 2024 Paris Olympics, which marks the Philippines’ 100th year competing in the Games. On top of this, this edition also comes after the country’s historic medal haul in Tokyo, where the Philippines brought home four medals.

In line with this, here are five questions we have ahead of the country’s next Olympic campaign. Will it be another historic run? We’ll have to wait and see a few weeks from now.

An added sport into the medal tally? 

As of today, the Philippines’ 14 Olympic medals come from four sports: weightlifting, boxing, athletics (high jump, 400m hurdles), and swimming. Seven medals alone already come from Filipino boxers across several generations. 

On average, Philippine delegations compete in around eight or nine different sports, including our Paris-bound contingent with 22 athletes across nine disciplines. Given the momentum the country has from Tokyo, and with many sports represented this year, maybe it’s not too unreasonable to expect that our all-time medal list will now include some from other events, right? 

Another Olympic debutant AND medalist?
Philippines Olympics: Debutants
(Photo Credit: Cignal)

Of the 22 Paris-bound Pinoys, about 14 will be first-time Olympians: Levi Ruivivar, Aleah Finnegan, Emma Malabuyo, Hergie Bacyadan, Vanessa Sarno, Joanie Delgaco, Samantha Catantan, Aira Villegas, John Ceniza, Dottie Ardina (who skipped Rio 2016 due to the Zika virus outbreak), Jarrod Hatch, John Cabang-Tolentino, and Lauren Hoffman. 

Yet at the same time, history shows that a medal is possible for Olympic debutants. In Tokyo 2020 alone, the trio of Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial were first-timers, but they accounted for three of the Philippines’ medals that year. And according to the Olympics site, older medalists such as Miguel White (1936), Anthony Villanueva (1964), and Leopoldo Serrantes (1988) all won Olympic medals on their first try as well.

Heading into Paris, the question now is can one (or more) of these debutants replicate this kind of feat? While the Olympics is a different beast, most of our Paris debutants do bring stacked resumes, which include feats at the regional circuits. 

Here’s hoping that the stars align for them in Paris. 

Can the Tokyo Trio do it again (or more)?
Philippines Olympics: eumir marcial
(Photo Credit: Olympics)

On the flip side, the Philippines’ Olympic delegation will include the medal-winning trio of Petecio, Paalam, and Marcial. Nesthy and Carlo were silver medalists in Tokyo, while Eumir copped bronze in the middleweight division. 

A medal in Paris from any of the three means that they have the chance to become two-time Olympic medalists, joining first-ever gold medalists Hidilyn Diaz and Teofilo Yldefonso. Even better, can one of them join Hidilyn by finishing what they started and winning a gold medal in their second Olympic campaign? 

Will EJ and Caloy break through? 
Philippines Olympics: Caloy Yulo
(Photo Credit: Carlos Yulo on Instagram)
Philippines Olympics: EJ Obiena
(Photo Credit: EJ Obiena on Instagram)

Within the delegation, EJ Obiena and Caloy Yulo are arguably the most accomplished, having excelled in most, if not all high-level tournaments for pole vault and gymnastics, respectively. No doubt that they’re already in all-time great conversations as we speak. 

Perhaps the icing on the cake is an elusive Olympic medal. Caloy came close in Tokyo, ranking fourth in vault, one of his pet events, while EJ struggled early and only landed in 11th place. 

Four years is a lot of time for improvement. Ahead of Paris, Yulo had a resurgence of sorts, winning silver and golds in the Asian Championships and FIG World Cup. Obiena, meanwhile, has cleared the 6-meter range twice already and became the first Asian to do so, not to mention that he is also ranked World No. 2 on the men’s pole vault rankings.

Can we exceed Tokyo? 

It all goes back to the basics: Can we do better than the Tokyo Olympics? After all, that was our biggest Olympic medal haul that was headlined by Hidilyn Diaz’s historic weightlifting gold. 

Effectively, Tokyo was a clear sign that Filipinos could still take it up a notch on the Olympic stage. Now, it’s up to our 22-strong Paris delegation to build on that momentum. 

Banner Image courtesy of Cignal.

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