With four gold, two silver, and 12 bronze medalists, the Philippines closed the Asian Games with their best finish since 1994.
The past two weeks have been filled with news and updates about the Philippines’ representatives at the 19th Asian Games hosted in Hangzhou, China, and we were thankful for the noise, as it meant that our athletes were winning medals and bringing pride to the country.
In total, Team Philippines won a total of 18 medals at the 19th Asian Games — a modest number lower than the 21 medals they won in 2018. Nevertheless, the athletes still managed to bring the country to a 17th-place finish overall by the end of the Games. This marks the Philippines’ best result in the continental competition since 1994 when we finished in 14th.
These are the Philippines’ Asian Games medalists that we have to thank for this result.
Gold Medalists – 4
ATHLETICS: EJ Obiena became the first gold medalist for the Philippines at the 19th Asian Games. Clearing 5.9 meters in the men’s pole vault event, the World No. 2 pole vaulter ended the country’s track and field medal drought that has gone on since 1994, and on top of this, he set a new meet record — quite a way to kick off the Philippines’ gold haul.
JIU-JITSU: As one of the events played later in the tournament, the Jiu-Jitsu women in the Philippines came in the clutch to claim two more gold medals for the country. Meggie Ochoa — one of the country’s most decorated Ju-Jitsu athletes who also happened to still be recovering from a knee injury earlier this year — fought through a fever to become the Philippines’ second gold medalist after ruling the -48kg event of the Asian Games.
Shortly after, the Philippines got its third medal of the event after Annie Ramirez captured the gold medal for the 57kg women’s Jiu-Jitsu event thanks to her incredible defeat over Kazakhstan’s Galina Duvanova — a redemption story for the Filipina, who lost in the previous edition of the Games.
BASKETBALL: The Philippines’ fourth and final gold medal at the Asian Games just had to come through the country’s favorite sport. Gilas Pilipinas pulled an incredible comeback in their semifinal match against the tournament hosts, China, by a single point to secure a spot in the finals where they faced familiar foes, Jordan. The squad, led by head coach Tim Cone, fought hard to claim a 70-60 win to win the gold medal of the men’s basketball event — a huge win and a much-needed comeback that comes off the heels of the team’s disappointing World Cup run — that granted them their first podium finish since 1998.
Silver Medalists – 2
WUSHU: The Philippines has many talented athletes in the wide world of martial arts, and Arnel Mandal proved this when he became the country’s first silver medalist in the Asian Games after making it to the finals where he faced home-talent Haidong Jiang from China in the men’s 56kg Wushu event. Though his was the Philippines’ first silver medal, he was actually already the fourth Wushu medalist at the event, putting this particular martial art in the spotlight.
BOXING: The Philippines’ second silver medal came from another combative event, where the Filipino boxing star Eumir Marcial came just a touch short of gold when he lost to Tuohetaerbieke Tanglatihan from China. Marcial won the first round, but the hometown bet took the second, bringing their final match to a tight third and final round. Ultimately, the judges ruled in Tanglatihan’s favor, but Marcial headed home with more than just a medal — he also booked his ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Bronze Medalists – 15
TAEKWONDO: The Philippines’ first medalist at the Asian Games was Patrick King Perez who won a bronze medal for the men’s individual poomsae event. His performance in the semifinals earned him a score of 6.910, a very respectable showing that brought him to the podium behind Chinese Taipei’s Ma Yun Zhong.
TENNIS: Filipina tennis sensation Alex Eala may have been competing in her first-ever Asian Games, but she did not come to the court looking like a rookie. In her first event, the women’s singles, she barged into the semifinals against the top-seeded Zheng Qinwen, and although she lost the match, she fought until the very end against a top-25 player in the world. In her second event, she teamed up with veteran Francis Casey Alcantara in the mixed doubles event, where they again made it to the semis and finished on the podium for another piece of hardware.
WUSHU: Though not exactly a mainstream sport, the Philippines’ Wushu athletes have taken over a large chunk of the country’s medals in the Asian Games. With Arnel Mandal taking a silver medal, three other talented Wushu athletes capped off the tournament with more hardware: Jones Llabres Inso, Gideon Fred Padua, and Clemente Tabugara Jr. each won bronze medals for their respective individual events. With four medals for this sport alone, Wushu became the Philippines’ sport that carried the most weight in the country’s total medal tally.
CYCLING BMX RACING: Filipino cyclist Patrick Bren Coo won the bronze medal for BMX racing, but not without a hard fight against tough competitors, and on top of this, against an injury. Coo sustained a scrape on his right thigh after a crash in the first moto, but he still managed to recover and post a time of 39.076 seconds to win the country’s first medal for cycling in this Asian Games.
WEIGHTLIFTING: While eyes were set on Olympic gold medalist and weightlifting veteran Hidilyn Diaz, it was the 24-year-old Filipina Elreen Ando who finished with a bronze medal in the women’s 64kg category to prove that the future of Philippine weightlifting remains bright. With her podium finish, she ensures that the Philippines continues its short (thus far) yet memorable medal streak in Asian Games weightlifting as one of the medalists for Team Philippines.
SEPAK TAKRAW: Sepak Takraw is often thought to be a Filipino sport — an honest mistake given the country’s many talented athletes — but it actually originated in Malaysia. Still, the Philippines showed their strength in the sport by winning bronze medals in two events. The representatives from the men’s quadrant team, Rheyjey Ortouste, Jason Huerte, Vince Torno, Mark Joseph Gonzales, Ronsited Gabayeron, and Jom Lerry Rafael, along with the representatives of the men’s regu team, Rheyjey Ortouste, Jason Huerte, Mark Joseph Gonzales, Ronsited Gabayeron, and Jom Lerry Rafael all went home with medals around their necks.
KARATE: The Philippines’ medal haul in various forms of martial arts continued as Sakura Alforte won the Philippines’ 10th bronze medal in the Asian Games for the individual kata event for women’s karate. Her performance granted her 41.90 points, enough to land her on the podium, edging out Chinese Taipei bet Chien Hui Hsuan.
JU-JITSU: Jiu-Jitsu fighter Kaila Napolis is becoming more and more well-known for her craft. After she became the Philippines’ first gold medalist in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games earlier this year, she again fought her way to a podium finish in the 19th Asian Games with a 4-2 defeat over Hessa Alshamsi. Now, she adds her Asian Games bronze to her growing collection of medals, which also includes two bronzes from the world championships.
Banner images from AFP, Annie Ramirez on Instagram, and the Philippine Sports Commission on Facebook.