FACT SHEET: Athletes of Team Philippines
MANILA, Philippines - Get to know the 11-person Philippine delegation that will be carrying the Olympic flag in the London 2012 games!
Rappler brings you a fact sheet of Team Philippines and all you need to know about our athletes who are putting their hearts on the line to bring pride to the country.
NAME: Jasmine Alkhaldi
SPORT: Swimming (100-meter freestyle)
INFORMATION: Hailing from Laguna, Alkhaldi currently holds the Philippine record in women’s swimming for the 100-meter butterfly and 50-meter butterfly events. She is a three-time gold medalist at the Southeast Asian Games.
Attributing her discipline and determination to her mom’s careful guidance, Alkhaldi is ready to swim for the Philippines in the 100-meter freestyle competition at London. She is also currently on the roster of the swimming and diving team at the University of Hawaii, where she intends to major in marketing.
NAME: Mark Anthony Barriga
SPORT: Boxing (light flyweight)
INFORMATION: Despite his youth and rather short stature—he’s only five feet tall—Barriga is thought to be a strong contender for an Olympic gold medal. This 19-year-old may call his mother Melita, “momsky”, but his first place finish at the Sydney Jackson Memorial Tournament in Uzbekistan for the past two years shows that he is a fighter to reckon with.
At the World Amateur Championships in Azerbaijan last October 2011, Barriga reached the quarterfinals by beating Irish boxer Patrick Barnes, who won bronze in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. This victory, along with coaching from former Olympic bronze medalist Roel Velasco, signifies Barriga’s strong shot at medalling in the upcoming London Games.
NAME: Rachel Anne Cabral
INFORMATION: Born in Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley, Cabral is the first female Philippine archer since Jasmine Figueroa at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She finished 6th in her group at the World Archery Championship in Utah last month, clinching a spot on the Olympic team.
Cabral is one of the three Philippine athletes who was late in traveling to London. Together with Mark Javier, she underwent a separate training and preparation program in South Korea before leaving for London on July 19. Besides competing for the Philippines, this archer is also taking up sports education at the University of Makati.
NAME: Daniel Caluag
SPORT: Cycling (BMX Bicycle Motorcross)
INFORMATION: A Filipino-American from Chino, California, Caluag is the sole Asian competing in the BMX event for cycling at the London Games. Though he actually hoped to qualify for the U.S. team, Caluag decided to compete for the Philippines after learning that he was unable to make the cut.
With a father from Bulacan and a mother from Nueva Ecija, Caluag confirmed his spot on the Philippine Olympic team after emerging in the top 60 riders of the UCI BMX World Championships in the U.K. As a four-time US BMX champion, many are expecting a great performance from Caluag, including the Philippine Sports Commission, which is providing him with full financial support.
NAME: Hidilyn Diaz
SPORT: Weightlifting (58 kg)
INFORMATION: In 2008, Diaz competed at the Beijing Olympics as the Philippine’s first female weightlifter. She was only 17 years old. Not allowing her young age to hold her back, however, Diaz placed 11th overall in the women’s 58 kg weightlifting event. This feat led her to receive a special mention from the UK Daily Telegraph, where she was named a “star performer.”
Because of her great accomplishments as a Philippine athlete, many Filipinos are surprised to find that this Zamboanga native came from humble beginnings. Diaz is one of seven children of a tricycle driver, and worked incredibly hard to get where she is today. This year, she has been given the honor of carrying the Philippines’ Olympic flag during the open ceremonies on July 27.
NAME: Rene Herrera
SPORT: Track and Field (5000 meters)
INFORMATION: At 33, Herrera is considered the ‘veteran’ member of the Philippine team as the eldest of the athletes. But even if Herrera is the Philippines’ most senior competitor, this year signifies his first bid at the Olympics.
Herrera is no rookie, however, and has actually been in the national pool since 2003. With five SEA Games gold medals under his belt, this Philippine Navy seaman clocks in a time 14:51.40 when running the 5,000-meter track and field event. His stamina is the result of his daily 20-kilometer morning jogs.
NAME: Tomohiko Aldaba Hoshina
SPORT: Judo (over 100 kg)
INFORMATION: Many are surprised to find out that the Japanese-named Hoshina has Filipino roots. With a mother from Bulacan, he has competed for the Philippines in various international Judo competitions, even winning silver for the country at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games. To earn a spot at the Olympics this year, the martial arts expert gathered points by participating in the Judo world championship, World Grand Prix, and World Cup.
Hoshina prepared for the Olympics in Japan, but left for London on July 19th with two other teammates. When he isn’t preparing for big international Judo competitions, he teaches high school students how to master the martial art.
NAME: Mark Javier
INFORMATION: During his second Olympic outing in Beijing, Javier came in 52nd overall amongst 64. Though he used to shoot with an airsoft gun, the Dumaguete native reverted to archery soon after.
Javier will compete for the Philippines at the London Games this year after a solid outing at the World Archery Championship in Utah last month, where he fought for a rematch on a rules technicality in order to qualify. In addition to the wearing the Philippine flag at the Olympics, he will also be representing his alma mater, Siliman University.
NAME: Jessie Khing Lacuna
SPORT: Swimming (200-meter freestyle)
INFORMATION: Lacuna, 18, is the youngest athlete representing the Philippines at this year’s London Olympics. A Bulacan native, he began swimming when he was only 3 months old, when his parents still had to fasten a pair of floaties on his arms.
Lacuna is currently the fastest swimmer in the Philippines, initially proving his skill at the second Philippine Nationals Games, where he bagged six gold medals. Since then, Lacuna also earned multiple medals at the Southeast Asian Games, including a silver medal in 2011. He also topped the Singapore Youth Olympic Games in 2010, where he simultaneously broke swimmer Miguel Molina’s Philippine record for the 200-meter freestyle event with a time of 1:50.90.
NAME: Paul Brian Rosario
INFORMATION: Rosario earned his spot on the Philippine team after being chosen by the International Olympic Committee as wild card entry, besting seven others for the coveted spot. Despite a score of 120 out of 125 at the World Cup Shotgun Championship in October 2011, Rosario was unable to qualify through his personal wins alone and was luckily chosen for the wild card. His score at Belgrade, however, falls only one point short of the gold medal score at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, which signifies a chance at victory for him in London.
NAME: Marestella Torres
SPORT: Long Jump
INFORMATION: With her recent championship win at the 2012 Asian Athletics Grand Prix, Torres is primed to compete in the women’s long jump competition at London this year. A four-time SEA Games champion, Torres set the record for Southeast Asia in 2011 with a spectacular jump of 6.71 meters.
This is also her personal best record, which falls only 0.04 meter short of the ‘A-‘ Olympic standard. It will be Torres’ second shot at an Olympic medal, having competed in Beijing but jumping merely 6.49 meters after injuring her knee. - Rappler.com, with photos from AFP