//Olympics 2024

Subtle Trends: A Deeper Look Into the Philippines’ Paris Olympics Delegation 

With just over a month left to go, the hype for the Paris Olympics will only continue to grow. And for Filipinos, in particular, Paris follows a major medal haul in Tokyo three years ago, which culminated in Hidilyn Diaz winning the country’s first-ever gold medal. Given this, expectations are high for the upcoming batch of Filipino Olympians.

Currently, there are 15 Filipino athletes who will attempt to secure a medal or two for the Philippines (and more could still follow suit). So as we count down to the Olympics, here are some trends we’ve noticed in the next crop of stars who will carry the Philippine flag on a global stage.

Of quantity and history 
Carlo Paalam, a Tokyo 2020 silver medalist, will be one of five Filipino boxers for Paris. (Photo Credit: Olympics)

Five boxers will be leading the Philippines’ Paris Olympics delegation, which includes Tokyo 2020 medalists Nesthy Petecio (silver), Carlo Paalam (silver), and Eumir Marcial (bronze). Alongside these proven stars are newcomers in Aira Villegas, and most recently, Hergie Bacyadan

Following the Pinoy punchers are four gymnasts (as of writing). From just one representative for the sport in Tokyo, Carlos Yulo, now the team will be sending fresh talents: Aleah Finnegan, Levi Jung-Ruivivar, and Emma Malabuyo, who made the decision to represent their Filipino roots. 

There’s also the weightlifting trio of Vanessa Sarno, Elreen Ando, and John Ceniza, who will now carry Philippine weightlifting pride without gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

All three teams have also made some form of history, with this year’s boxing team equaling the Atlanta 1996 delegation that included silver medalist Onyok Velasco. Yulo’s batch meanwhile, will feature the first Filipina gymnasts to compete in the Olympics since Tokyo 1959 thanks to the Finnegan-Ruivivar-Malabuyo trio. 

Likewise, this is also the first time since Seoul 1988 that the Philippines will be sending a trio of Olympic weightlifters when the country was represented by Ramon Solis, Greg Coloma, and Samuel Aligado.

But let’s not forget either the lone Olympians representing their sport, which includes world number two pole vaulter EJ Obiena, rower Joanie Delgaco, and fencer Sam Catantan. 

Abante babae!
Joanie Delgaco is the first Filipina rower in her sport for the Olympics. (Photo Credit: Joanie Delgaco on Facebook)

As of writing, 10 of the 15 Paris delegates are Filipina athletes. Over the years, we’ve seen more and more Filipinas carry the flag on the Olympic stage, and this current figure is just another proof of such a welcome trend. 

Filipinas are no strangers to making history, either.

Ahead of Paris, Sam Catantan became the first Filipino Olympic fencer in 32 years, while Joanie Delgaco is also the first Filipina Olympic rower. In addition, even if she’s accompanied by Ruivivar and Malabuyo, Aleah Finnegan is technically the first Filipina Olympic gymnast since 1959 after qualifying through the World Artistic Championships.

And last year, Filipinas were history makers in Tokyo, with Hidilyn Diaz winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal. While Hidilyn’s gold was the biggest in Tokyo, there was also Nesthy Petecio, who copped a silver medal for the country. 

Now, the question is, who will be joining the likes of Hidilyn Diaz and Nesthy Petecio once the games begin in Paris? Who will be the next Filipina to etch her name into the rich Olympic history? 

Can the aforementioned names build on being the first or latest Filipinas in their respective sports? Until then, we wait. 

A number of Olympic debutants
Philippines Paris Olympics: Aleah Finnegan
Aleah Finnegan is one of the Philippines’ first-time Olympians for Paris. (Photo Credit: Aleah Finnegan on Instagram)

Nine Filipinos will be debuting on the Olympic stage in Paris. By our count, these include Levi Ruivivar, Aleah Finnegan, Emma Malabuyo, Hergie Bacyadan, Vanessa Sarno, Joanie Delgaco, Samantha Catantan, Aira Villegas, and John Ceniza.  

Qualifying for the Olympics is already a major win for these athletes, given the talent level and competition these stars had to face for a Paris ticket. And while Olympic-level competition is still a different animal, most if not all of these names have some relevant experience to show.

For instance, Malabuyo was formerly a US Olympic reserve for Tokyo, while Finnegan and Ruivivar had already been with the US national gymnastics team before choosing to represent their Filipino roots. 

Likewise, names like Sarno, Villegas, and Ceniza, Catantan, and Delgaco have represented the Philippines in past Southeast Asian Games. In particular, Sarno, Catantan, and Delgaco have all copped golds for the country during their respective campaigns. 

Fair share of youth  
Philippines Paris Olympics: Vanessa Sarno
At just 20 years old, Vanessa Sarno is one of the younger Filipina Olympians for Paris. (Photo Credit: Vanessa Sarno on Instagram)

Young talent is also present in the Philippines’ Paris Olympics delegation, starting with Levi Ruivivar who just turned 18 last May. Outside Levi, about four other Olympians are barely in their 20s in Sarno (20) Finnegan (21), Malabuyo, (21), and Catantan (22). 

As is, these young stars will already be wiser and more mature once the Paris Olympics end. And with tons more competitions, and countless training to follow, it should be expected that at least one of these ladies will be bannering a Philippine delegation in succeeding Olympics well after 2024. 

Banner image from Nesthy Petecio on Facebook.

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