Olympics

Filipino athletes to watch out for on road to Paris Olympics

Ariel Ian Clarito
Filipino athletes to watch out for on road to Paris Olympics

MEDALISTS. (from left to right) Hidilyn Diaz, Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam aim for comeback in the Paris Olympics.

Edgard Garrido (Diaz), Luis Robayo/Reuters (Petecio), Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters (Marcial), and Luis Robayo/Reuters (Paalam)

Who are the athletes who may be back for the 2024 Paris Olympics and the others who stand a chance to qualify?

The Philippines closed out a performance for the ages in the Tokyo Olympics with an unprecedented medal haul of 1 gold, 2 silvers, and 1 bronze.

The question now on everybody’s mind is whether this could be surpassed, or at the very least equaled, in the next edition of the Olympics. 

Who are the athletes who could possibly be back for the 2024 Paris Olympics? Who are the others who stand a chance of qualifying?

Silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam have already declared that they will gun for the gold in 2024.

Petecio will only be 32 years old by then while Paalam will be at the prime of his career at just 26 years old.

Bronze medalist Eumir Marcial has one foot in the world of professional boxing after he fought his first pro fight last year.

Marcial looks poised for success as a pro and might be focused on the next chapter of his career which is to be a world middleweight champion.

MEDAL HAUL. (left to right) Carlo Paalam, Eumir Marcial, and Nesthy Petecio haul in medals from the Tokyo Olympics.
Eumir Marcial’s Facebook

The country’s first ever gold medalist, Hidilyn Diaz, has mentioned she will be joining the SEA Games and the Asian Games, both scheduled next year.

She has remained non-committal about giving it another run in Paris. Among the reasons is the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) status with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that puts the sports inclusion in next quadrennial meet in peril.

But Diaz has given so much to the national cause that she deserves to call the terms whether or not she goes for her fifth straight Olympic appearance.

Hidilyn Diaz
WEIGHTLIFTING QUEEN. Hidilyn Diaz brings home the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
Edgard Garrido/REUTERS

If the green light continues to flash for weightlifting in Paris, there is also a line of potential successors to Diaz.

Elreen Ando gave a good account of herself in Tokyo when she finished seventh in the women’s 64 kg event. Ando could barge into the top 10 of the world rankings by next year.

Mary Flor Diaz, Hidilyn’s cousin, clinched a bronze in her first SEA Games in 2019, then brought home three silvers from the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Championships. Diaz is currently 18th in the world in the women’s 45 kg. 

One name that Filipino fans should be excited about is Vanessa Sarno. Turning 18 years old this September, Sarno is a gold medalist in the 2019 Asian Youth and Junior Championships and the 2020 IWF Online World Youth Championships.

In this year’s Asian Championships, she once again bagged gold medals. the International Weightlifting Federation ranked Sarno fifth in the 71 kg category.

Another Zamboanga native like the Diazes, Kristel Macrohon is currently 15th in the IWF World rankings. Macrohon is a 2019 SEA Games gold medalist. She is also an Asian Championships bronze medalist. In the 2020 IWF World Cup held in Italy, Macrohon snagged a bronze in the women’s 71 kg event. 

EJ Obiena may have missed out on a podium finish this year, but he is bound to get better and improve on his world standing.

He is currently the No. 6 ranked pole vaulter in the world. Obiena should be one of the favorites in Paris.

EJ Obiena
WORLD NO. 6. EJ Obiena wants to achieve his goal of winning the Olympics.
Aleksandra Szmigiel/REUTERS

Kristina Knott could try to qualify in both 100 meters and 200 meters. Two others members of the national team in athletics, Natalie Uy of pole vault and William Morrison of shot put, are close to the Olympic qualifying marks, which they could hit in time for the Paris Games. 

Taekwondo’s Kurt Barbosa is just 22 and will surely be a strong bet to qualify anew for the Olympics. Fellow jin Pauline Lopez will be trying for the third time to make it to the quadrennial games after barely missing out of the last two stagings of the Olympics. 

Margielyn Didal finished seventh in Tokyo and could be knocking at the doors of the top 10 in the skateboarding street world rankings. Christiana Nicole Means and Jericho Francisco will be aiming to join Didal as the country’s representatives in skateboarding.

Kiyomi Watanabe will be 28 when the Paris Games happen. She will seek to improve her performance in Tokyo where she got a surprise, rather controversial, ruling from officials which ended her campaign prematurely. The Nagano brothers, Shugen and Keisei, are also potential Olympians. 

Expect a stronger, better, and more mature Carlos Yulo in 2024. Already one of the best in the world in floor exercises, Yulo showed in Tokyo that he is also a force in the men’s vault event. The 4-foot-11 dynamo remains one of the top medal contenders for the Philippines in Paris. 

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Cris Nievarez made his Olympic debut in Tokyo as the only Southeast Asian to qualify in the men’s singles sculls.

At just 21 years old, Nievarez has not even reached the peak of his rowing abilities. Rowers on the average take 10 years upon learning the sport to make the Olympics. Nievarez did it in six years. With more exposure and support, he will be ready to be a contender in 2024. 

Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan will already be seasoned campaigners in the LPGA by 2024. It is not far-fetched that by the time the Paris Olympics commences, the two will have some LPGA titles and majors between them.

Former UAAP Junior’s MVP and Penn State University fencer Samantha Catantan was just two wins short of qualifying for the Olympics this year.

Nineteen-year-old BMX rider Patrick Coo, the lone Asian in the World Cup in Colombia which served as the Olympic qualifier, and Under-23 MTB Asian champion Ariana Dormitorio will have three full years to get themselves Paris-ready.

Another 19-year-old, archer Monica Bidaure upset fourth seed Asel Sharbekova of Kyrgyzstan in the world Olympic qualifiers before bowing out in the Round of 16.

Nilbie Blancada mades waves, literally and figuratively, in this year’s surfing Olympic qualifiers. She will attempt to make it in 2024 where surfing competitions will be held in Tahiti.

There were athletes in canoe-kayak and wrestling who failed to participate in the Olympic qualifiers of their events due to pandemic-related circumstances. They will get their chance to qualify in 2024.

Filipino sports fans will be keenly following how Gilas Pilipinas will fare in the 2023 FIBA World Cup which the country will be hosting. If Gilas ends up the best performing Asian team, then it automatically qualifies for Paris which would end the country’s 52-year absence in Olympic basketball.

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The Tokyo Olympics could be just the springboard for even bigger things for Philippine sports.

Barring any major injuries to our top athletes coupled with the proper collaboration among government sports agencies, the NSAs, and the private sector, then we could put ourselves in a position to produce even more medals in the 2024 Paris Olympics.  – Rappler.com