"Bravo. Cheers. Mabuhay."
Take a bow, 2020 Olympians! All 16 of you. You deserve the country’s accolade and thanks for bringing honor to our benighted land. In the midst of the pandemic and the high profile infighting within the Philippine Olympic Committee in the middle of our preparations, you managed to bring honor to our people hauling one gold (our first ever after 97 years of participation), two silvers (also a first) and one bronze, for a grand total of four much deserved medals. This is equal to our output in the 1928 Olympics but decidedly brighter with the gold and two silvers. In 1928, we got one silver and three bronzes.
That outstanding feat was made even sweeter noting that we bested all our ASEAN neighbors and got better results than such more developed countries like India, New Zealand, Austria and about 30 other countries many of whom never got any medal at all.
What makes this an even better bargain is that all of the medal winners—save for Eumir Marcial, if he decides to turn pro before the next Olympics in 2024/25 in Paris—are all young and raring to go back to lead off our medal charge in this quadrennial world sporting event.
Hidilyn Diaz, our 29-year-old gold medalist from Zamboanga City, plans to stay with the Philippine Air Force where she is expected to be elevated to the rank of lieutenant while honing her skills to defend her title not only in the Olympics but in the Asian and Southeast Asiam Games in the years before the Paris Games.
Nesthy Petecio, our first Olympic silver medalist in women’s boxing and also the reigning Southeast Asian Games title holder, is only 26 years old. Like Hidilyn, she is in her prime. Petecio, who lost by split decision to a hometown favorite, vows to finally box her way to gold in 2024.
On the other hand, Carlo Paalam, the 23-year-old flyweight silver medalist from Cagayan de Oro, has come up with a four-year-training schedule complete with possible stints in accredited tournaments abroad outside of the Asian and SEA games.
His fellow Mindanaoan, middleweight bronze medalist Marcial, who was actually touted as the gold medal favorite in the Tokyo Games, is still weighing whether he wants to turn pro now or wait for another try for Olympic glory four years from now.
Our other 12 hopefuls who made the Olympic grade are all young and hungry for Olympic glory. Our world-renowned gymnast Carlos Yulo who missed bronze in the gymnastic floor exercises is now back in training as are our track star Kristina Knott and pole vaulter EJ Obiena. The skateboarding sensation Margielyn Didal is back conquering the alleys and byways of her native Cebu.
To their credit and that of our sports officials and of course President Duterte and a reinvigorated private sector, we can now rest assured that God willing, our golden Olympic years are ahead of us.
Bravo. Cheers. Mabuhay.