As this column heads to the press, middleweight Eumir Marcial and flyweight Carlo Paalam are going for boxing glory in their respective semifinal bouts in the Tokyo Olympics.
While Marcial and Paalam were assured of Olympic bronzes, I really hoped both of them would make it to the finals.
Whatever the result, they have already done the country proud alongside weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and boxing silver medalist Nesthy Petecio.
The accolades and prizes that have gone and are going their way, serve as just rewards for all the sacrifices they have gone through and for persevering in their sport of choice against the odds.
That said, all the 19 Filipino athletes alongside their training staff deserve recognition as well, as they are part of the Philippine delegation with the best ever finish in the country’s Olympics history.
Who would have thought that Team Philippines would produce four medals in the Tokyo Olympics with at least one gold and one silver at that (maybe more with two assured bronzes)?
While Team Philippines 2021 has set the bar so high, there’s no doubt in my mind that future delegations will do even better the next time around.
For instance, Cebu’s Margielyn Didal impressed in skateboarding, and if not for an apparent injury, she would have advanced further in her campaign.
Gymnast Carlos Yulo barely missed a podium finish in Olympic vault competition at fourth place -- the finals was so close that only .067 points separated his score from that of the gold medalist.
Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, meanwhile, made it to the final round, but a mere fraction of a centimeter made the difference from him clearing his jump -- it was all in the head, as the athlete himself admitted.
As an ordinary citizen, I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it is for an athlete to compete at the highest level against the best of the best in his or her chosen sport.
And for that reason, the right thing we spectators should do is to support them and to applaud them, win or lose.
The only difference is that this time around, after years, decades, even close to a century of hurt and doubt, there is more reason to celebrate with the best collective performance of our Olympic athletes ever.
Once again, congratulations, Team Philippines!
August 05, 2021
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