MANILA, Philippines – As numerous international events such as the 29th Southeast Asian Games went by in 2017, it proved to be a year that saw some of our most outstanding Filipina athletes and sports teams of today shine with excellence.
With the new year kicking off, 2018 is looking to be another year where we will be seeing these Filipinas take another step toward their greater goals in donning the country's colors.
Getting ready to join the ranks of Mary Joy Tabal and Hidilyn Diaz are 5 admirable female athletes and sports teams who are expected to stand out again in 2018.
Philippine Women's National Football Team (PWNFT)
The 1-1 draw with Bahrain in the 2017 AFC Women's Asian Cup qualifiers made the PWNFT realize that they will be the first senior national team in Philippine football history to reach an Asian Cup finals.
The squad composed of local and Fil-Am players dominated Group A of the qualifiers against United Arab Emirates (4-0), Iraq (4-0), Tajikistan (8-0) but lost to Jordan (1-5) and drew with Bahrain (1-1). The PWNFT finished the tournament with 10 points and a ticket to the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup that will be held from April 7 to 22, 2018 in Jordan.
In preparation for their historic debut, the team will be completing a 3-month training camp in the US which is backed by PFF president Mariano V. Araneta's Project Jordan task force. Local players Patrice Impelido, Inna Palacios, Camille Rodriguez and Sara Castañeda departed for the US in the last week of December and will be joined by the other players both based in the Philippines and abroad such as Eva Madarang, Hali Long, Hanna Parado, and Claire Lim.
The PWNFT is maximizing all its chances in making it to the top 5 of the continental tournament to advance to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup to be held in France.
For 2018, we resolve to be fierce & fight smart to make it to the World Cup #MVPSports #UnleashFiercePH #WorldCupDream #futbol #soccer #football pic.twitter.com/j1YxOtCrGP — Cam Rodriguez (@camrod_) January 3, 2018
PH Blu Girls
The Philippine women's national softball team took a great leap in 2017 and eventually was able to raise its rank to world number 15 from 17 at the end of the year.
Dubbed the "Queens of Southeast Asian Softball," the Blu Girls had a trailblazing 2017 that further lit up their hopes in qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The team had a successful run to their World Cup of Softball XII and Canada Cup International Softball Championship campaigns, as they were able to defeat world number 3 Canada twice, world number 4 Australia, and Asian number 3 Chinese Taipei in July 2017.
The Blu Girls capped off their year with a silver medal in the 11th Asian Women's Softball Championships in Taiwan that not only fulfilled their promise of bringing home a medal, but also assured them of a slot in the 2018 Asian Games that will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
As 2018 kicks off, the Blu Girls are already off to a busy year preparing for 4 major tournaments: World Cup in California, Canadian Cup, World Championships in Chiba, Japan, and the Asian Games in Indonesia.
The PH Blu Girls will be preparing for 4 major tournaments in 2018: World Cup in California, Canadian Cup, World Championships in Chiba, Japan and the Asian Games in Indonesia. | via @beebeego09 pic.twitter.com/ltdFW8DNio — Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) December 6, 2017
Krizziah Lyn Tabora
After 14 years, Tabora reignited the glory days of Philippine bowling by being the 5th Filipino to hold a Bowling World Championships title as she was crowned the 53rd QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup (BWC) Champion in the women's division in Mexico in November 2017.
In the 1970s, Philippine bowling produced world-caliber athletes such as Filipinas Lita dela Rosa (1978), Olivia "Bong Coo" Garcia (1979), and legend Paeng Nepomuceno who holds 4 BWC titles in 1976, 1980, 1992, and 1996, and is now the Philippine National Bowling Team head coach.
The last Filipino to win a BWC title was Christian Suarez in 2003.
Since the start of her career, Tabora was already destined to excel in the sport as she started training for the sport at the age of 14, which is late in bowling standards. Three years later, she won her first national championship and currently holds the record for the youngest national champion at the age of 17.
In 2018, Tabora will be looking to join the 54th QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup for the 3rd time and defend her title as the queen of world bowling. She will also be vital to the Philippines' campaign in the Asian Games in Jakarta against powerhouse teams like South Korea and Japan.
As she was about to start her debut performance in the 2017 ASEAN Para Games, Honasan never thought she would attain 3 gold medals by just racing her heart out against the best of Southeast Asia.
Honasan was diagnosed with a birth defect called gastroschisis, where a baby’s intestines and stomach develop outside the body, and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome characterized by overgrowth on one side or parts of the body which saw her right side grow longer.
Before being endorsed to the Philippine Sports Association of the Differently Abled Athletes (Philspada), Honasan believed she needed to "prove herself" as she experienced bullying due to her disability. With her love for running, she endured all the pain and even got to race with able-bodied athletes in Palarong Pambansa that eventually caught the attention of many.
Clocking 13.96 seconds in the 100m dash, 28.51 seconds in the 200m dash, and 63.35 seconds in the 400m dash, Honasan's times are up to Paralympic standard, which allows her to qualify for the 2018 Asian Games and upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.