Philippine Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz

A Quick Look at Every Olympic Medal the Philippines Has Won

The Philippines currently has 14 Olympic medals — let’s take a quick look at the country’s history in the Games.

The Philippines has a long history of participating in the Olympic Games, having been competing since 1924. However, medals have come relatively few and far between. To illustrate this, it took the Philippines 97 years to win their first-ever Olympic gold medal. The journey may have been long, but it wasn’t without its merits.

In history, the Philippines has won a total of 14 Olympic medals. Here’s a quick look at each of the medalists throughout the years.

Bronze Medalists

Teofilo Yldefonso (Amsterdam 1928, Los Angeles 1932) — Not only was Yldefonso the Philippines’ first athlete to finish on the podium at an Olympic event, but he also became the first Southeast Asian to win an Olympic medal when he won the bronze for the 200m breaststroke swimming event in Amsterdam 1928. Known as “the father of the modern breaststroke,” he went on to win another bronze at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, again for the 200m breaststroke.

Simeon Toribio (Los Angeles 1932) — Out of three Olympic appearances, Toribio struck bronze in the 1932 edition, performing well in the high jump event. In the following Olympics in 1936, he even became the flag bearer for the Philippines.

Jose Villanueva (Los Angeles 1932) — Before Tokyo 2020, Los Angeles 1932 saw the Philippines’ biggest medal haul from the Olympics. Filipino boxer Villanueva finished third in the bantamweight division to become the third medalist that year.

Miguel White (Berlin 1936) — Filipino-American Miguel White was a track-and-field athlete who won a bronze medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics for the 400m hurdles, making him the only Filipino out of 31 delegates to win a medal that year.

Leopoldo Serantes (Seoul 1988) — In Seoul 1998, boxer Leopoldo Serantes had a dominant run in the light flyweight division until he lost to the eventual gold medalist of the event in the semifinals. Still, he came home with a bronze medal, adding to the Philippines’ tally of boxing medals from the Olympics.

Roel Velasco (Barcelona 1992) — The Philippines won another bronze medal in Barcelona 1992 when Roel Velasco, similar to Serantes, lost in the semifinal of the light flyweight division to the eventual gold medalist.

Eumir Marcial (Tokyo 2020) — Tokyo 2020 became the Philippines’ biggest medal haul ever, winning four medals in total. First on the list is boxer Eumir Marcial who finished third place in the middleweight division. Marcial stands a chance to become a two-time medalist, as he is among the first Filipinos to qualify for the Paris 2024 Games.

Silver Medalists

Anthony Villanueva (Tokyo 1964) — Most of the Philippines’ medals come from the country’s boxers, and the second boxer to win an Olympic medal for the country was Anthony Villanueva, the son of former bronze medalist Jose Villanueva. His silver medal in Tokyo 1964 for the featherweight division was the Philippines’ first medal in 32 years.

Mansueto Velasco (Atlanta 1996) — Some believed that Filipino boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco could have become the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medalist after dominating the light flyweight division of the 1996 Olympics. However, after losing in the finals, he settled for a silver.

Hidilyn Diaz (Rio 2016) — The Philippines was never really known for weightlifting, but in the Rio 2016 Olympics, Hidilyn Diaz put the flag on the sport’s international scene, winning the country’s first Olympic weightlifting medal. This also ended the Philippines’ 20-year Olympic medal drought, and this would not be her last one.

Carlo Paalam (Tokyo 2020) — Carlo Paalam was a force to be reckoned with in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, making it all the way to the finals. Despite losing to Great Britain’s Galal Yafai in the gold medal match, Paalam proudly claimed the silver medal for the Philippines.

Nesthy Petecio (Tokyo 2020) — In the 2020 Summer Games, the Philippines won three medals in boxing, the third from Nesthy Petecio. As just one out of two Filipina boxers sent to Tokyo, she impressed, especially after defeating world no. 1 featherweight fighter, Lin Yu-Ting. Though she eventually settled for silver, it was a well-earned medal.

Gold Medalists

Hidilyn Diaz (Tokyo 2020) — At this point, Hidilyn Diaz’s name and reputation require no further explanation. After she won her second Olympic medal and the Philippines’ first-ever gold medal in history in Tokyo 2020, she sealed her status as the country’s Olympic queen. But, perhaps an even bigger achievement was what she did for Philippine sports as a whole.

Coincidence or not, ever since Diaz’s gold medal win, the Philippines’ passion for sports and local athletes around the world has been on the rise. In addition, there now seems to be a whole lot more support for female athletes as well. And, with all the attention and support she’s garnered ever since Tokyo, she is using her resources to push Philippine sports forward, providing new opportunities for aspiring weightlifters in the country — ensuring her legacy is one that will last.

Banner image from Hidilyn Diaz on Instagram.

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