Paris Olympics

Gunning for Paris: Filipino Olympic hopefuls to watch

Delfin Dioquino

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Gunning for Paris: Filipino Olympic hopefuls to watch

HEROINE. Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines celebrates after a lift during the Tokyo Olympics weightlifting competitions.


With six Filipino athletes already qualified for the Paris Games, more national team stars seek to clinch their Olympic berths

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ athlete roster for the Olympics continues to grow as the Paris Games near, all set to run from July 26 to August 11 in the capital of France.

Boxers Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas were the latest to clinch their Olympic seats, joining pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan, and boxer Eumir Marcial.

(LIST: Filipino athletes who qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics)

Here are athletes on track to reach Paris:

Bianca Pagdanganan (golf)

Asian Games medalist Bianca Pagdanganan is on pace for a second successive Olympic stint as 60 female golfers will qualify for Paris.

The top 15 in the world rankings, with a maximum of four athletes per country, will secure their berths, while the remaining spots will be given to the next highest-ranked golfers, with a maximum of two athletes per country, including those inside the top 15.

Ranked No. 119 in the world, the 26-year-old Pagdanganan sits at 36th place in the Olympic Golf Ranking released on March 11.

The 60 golfers who will see action in women’s golf will be finalized on June 25.

Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting)

The Philippines’ first and only Olympic champion, weightlifting star Hidilyn Diaz eyes a fifth consecutive Games appearance.

Competing at the heavier women’s 59kg division after the 55kg category she ruled in the Tokyo Games got scrapped, Diaz is currently ranked eighth in the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Olympic Qualification Ranking with a total lift of 224kg.

The 10 highest-ranked weightlifters in each of the 10 weight categories – five for men and five for women – will obtain quota places for Paris.

Diaz, 33, needs to keep her position until the final Olympic ranking is released on May 24 to extend her record as the Filipino athlete with the most Olympic appearances.

Vanessa Sarno (weightlifting)

Twenty-year-old weightlifter Vanessa Sarno is ripe for a maiden Olympic stint as she occupies fifth place in the women’s 71kg division.

A former Asian champion in her weight class, Sarno lifted a total of 249kg in the IWF Grand Prix in Doha, Qatar, in December as she ranks behind China’s Liao Guifang (273kg), USA’s Olivia Reeves (262kg), Ecuador’s Angie Palacios (261kg), and Romania’s Loredana Toma (256kg).

John Ceniza (weightlifting)

A veteran of the national weightlifting team, John Ceniza can make his Olympic debut in Paris as long as he retains his place in the IWF Olympic Qualification Rankings.

Ceniza, 26, sits at sixth in the men’s 61kg category with a total lift of 298kg.

Rosegie Ramos (weightlifting)

The youth movement in Philippine weightlifting thrives as 20-year-old Rosegie Ramos is also on target for a breakthrough Olympic appearance.

Ramos, a two-time Asian junior titlist, ranks ninth in the women’s 49kg with a total lift of 191kg.

Emma Malabuyo (gymnastics)

With two Filipino gymnasts already qualified for Paris, Emma Malabuyo hopes to join the party.

Malabuyo can reach the Olympics for the first time by ranking in the top two of the women’s floor exercise at the end of FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup Series, which consists of four legs.

Olympic points are awarded for a corresponding finish of an eligible athlete, with the top two gymnasts from each apparatus who accumulate the highest three-meet point total advancing to Paris.

Malabuyo, 21, is ranked second in floor exercise with 69 points after earning 30 points for bagging silver in Cairo, Egypt, 14 points for placing 13th in Cottbus, Germany, and 25 points for finishing fourth in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Austria’s Charlize Moerz, who is No. 1 in floor exercise with 80 points, already clinched her Paris berth.

With one last World Cup left to play in Doha, Qatar, in April, Malabuyo aims to keep her spot against Spain’s Laura Casabuena (45 points) and Turkey’s Sevgi Kayisoglu (43 points).

Levi Jung-Ruivivar (gymnastics)

Just like Malabuyo, gymnast Levi Jung-Ruivivar has a shot at Paris by ranking in the top two of the women’s uneven bars at the end of the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup Series.

Going into the Doha World Cup, the 17-year-old Jung-Ruivivar is tied at fifth with Croatia’s Sara Sulekic as they both have 44 points.

New Zealand’s Georgie-Rose Brown sits on top with 50 points followed by Sweden’s Jennifer Williams (48 points), Czech Republic’s Vanesa Masova (48 points), and Sweden’s Nathalie Westlund (47 points).

Chances, though, are slim for Jung-Ruivivar considering Brown and Williams have competed in just two World Cups, meaning they can pad their leads significantly with a competent finish in Doha since only the three highest scores will be accounted for the total.

Jung-Ruivivar got 14 points for 13th place in Cairo, 12 points for 12th place in Cottbus, and 18 points for eighth place in Baku.

Kiyomi Watanabe (judo)

The prospect of a second straight Olympic stint looks promising for judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.

Based on the latest Olympic ranking by the International Judo Federation where she is ranked No. 74 in the women’s -63kg class, Watanabe is in line to nail one of the 10 continental quotas allocated for Asia across the seven weight categories for women.

Watanabe, 27, will see action in the Antalya Grand Slam in Turkey set from March 29 to 31 and in the Asian Judo Championships in Hong Kong set from April 20 to 23 to boost her Paris bid.

Keisei Nakano (judo)

Also in contention for an Olympic berth, according to Philippine Judo Federation president Ali Sulit, is Keisei Nakano.

The twin brother of fellow judoka Shugen, Nakano is ranked No. 118 in the men’s -73kg division going into his next seven tournaments, including the Asian Judo Championships, before the Olympic qualification window closes in June.

Kurt Barbosa, Arven Alcantara, Tachiana Mangin, Baby Jessica Canabal (taekwondo)

Tokyo Olympian Kurt Barbosa banners the Philippine taekwondo team also composed of Arven Alcantara, Tachiana Mangin, and Baby Jessica Canabal that will take part in the World Taekwondo Asian Qualification Tournament in Tai’an, China, from March 15 to 16.

Only the top two eligible athletes from each weight category will qualify for Paris.

Barbosa (men’s -58kg) eyes a Games return after being the first Filipino to be eliminated in Tokyo, while Alcantara (men’s -68kg), Mangin (women’s -49kg), and Canabal (women’s 57kg) seek to make their Olympic debuts.

Cris Nievarez (rowing)

Another Tokyo Olympian, rower Cris Nievarez gets another crack at the Olympics.

Nievarez will compete in the World Rowing Asian and Oceanian Continental Qualification Regatta to be held from April 19 to 21 in Chungju, South Korea, where the top five in the men’ single sculls event will catch the boat to Paris.

If he misses the cut in the continental qualifiers, Nievarez needs a daunting top-two finish in the World Rowing Final Qualification Regatta set to run from May 19 to 21 in Lucerne, Switzerland. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.