IT IS International Women’s Month and to celebrate, I am dedicating this piece to our women sport’s heroes past and present.
Akiko Thomson (swimming) - One of the celebrated Filipino swimmers of all time. She competed in the 1987 and 1991 SEA Games where she won seven gold medals. She also participated in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games. She helped Philippine sports further during her tenure as PSC Commissioner in 2008.
Bea Lucero-Lhuillier (gymnastics, taekwondo) - Many would remember her as the child gymnast featured in an energy drink commercial during the 80’s. She was the face of Philippine gymnastics competing in the 1987 SEA Games and winning two gold medals and three silver medals in the process. Incidentally, after her failure to compete in the 1988 Olympics in gymnastics, she shifted her focus in Taekwondo and won the first bronze medal for the country in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Elma Muros-Posadas (athletics) - Dubbed the “Long Jump Queen of the Philippines”, she holds the record of most gold medals in athletics for the SEA Games at 15. One of the multi-titled female athletes the country has produced, she now works with the PSC-Philippine Sports Institute in honing grassroots development programs for the youth.
Lydia de Vega-Mercado (athletics) - “Asia’s Fastest Woman” during her prime. She dominated the sport like nobody can and served as the inspiration for Coach Elma as well. She currently resides in Singapore and helps train athletes there.
Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting) - The Philippines’ Olympic silver medalist during the Rio Olympics is also the first Filipina to win an Olympic medal after a 20 year medal drought for the country. She has been gathering medals and recognition for her exploits bringing pride and joy for our country.
Sheila Mae Perez (diving) - Aptly called the darling of Philippine diving, she is a proud Dabawenya whose rise to stardom began at Camp Panacan where she used to dive from a naval ship. She swept three gold medals in 2005 when the Philippines hosted the 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and then bagged another gold in 2007 in Thailand. She also competed in the Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.
These are just some of the women who have helped place the Philippines in a position of recognition because of their achievements in their sports disciplines.
With the theme #BalanceforBetter instituted to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we are looking for more ways both men and women can work together in honing talents of young athletes. This is not about who is better but rather how we can highlight our strengths as males and females and help “break the glass ceiling” in attaining a more inclusive sports culture in the country.
May we recognize more women and help in raising them alongside our families, community and country.