By Rommel Bong R. Fuertes Jr.
The Philippines is set to be represented by 19 athletes at the coming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Fil-Am Remedy Rule and Fil-Kiwi Luke Gebbie were the last two to make it to the Philippine roster, but they are certainly not the least.
Rule’s journey to Tokyo started in July of 2019, when she showed dominance in Gwangju, South Korea in the FINA World Swimming competition.
She clocked 1:00.42 in the women’s 100-meter butterfly, surpassing the standard time of 1:01.00 set at the 2015 Singapore Southeast Asian Games by fellow Filipina Jasmine Alkhaldi.
In the 2019 SEA Games, which the Philippines hosted, the University of Texas alum boosted her hopes for an Olympic appearance with a 55.80 finish at the 100m freestyle event, an Olympic Standard Time-B clocking.
The grind continued for Rule as she hit another Olympic selection time at the TYR Pro Swim Series in San Antonio, Texas in March of this year.
Clocking in 2:11.43 in the prelims and 2:12.23 in the 200-meter butterfly events, Rule swam through the OST qualifying time of 2:12.08.
Rule finally showed her readiness for the Olympics when she competed against Tokyo-bound swimmers from the United States at the TYR Pro Swim Series in California last April, when she surpassed once more, the Olympic standard time of 59.66 seconds with her 59.56.
After her impressive showings in several events, FINA approved of a Tokyo appearance for Rule to represent the Philippines.
Like Rule, Gebbie’s race to the Olympics started in 2019.
Gebbie began his campaign to Tokyo in a big way, towering over the competition at the Gwangju World Championships as the first ever Filipino to break the 50-second barrier in the men’s 100m freestyle event.
Gebbie sat atop the competition with a 49.94 second finish, also surpassing the Olympic Qualifying Time-A of 48.57 ticks.
The Fil-Kiwi continued to show his prowess in the sport at the 2019 SEA Games by shattering the record at the 50m butterfly event.
Gebbie clocked in the butterfly event finals 24.34 seconds, erasing Daniel Coakley’s record of 24.71 seconds. The record stood for a decade before Gebbie’s triumphant swim.
In February, Gebbie made sure to make a statement before the Olympics.
He snagged gold at Victorian Open Swimming Championships in the 100m butterfly event with a 55.83 finish, a silver at the 50m freestyle event in 23.39 seconds, another silver at the 50m butterfly event with a 25.27 and a bronze at the 100m freestyle event with 51.27 seconds.
With his Olympics Qualifying Times stacked, it was high time for Gebbie to move on to the grandest stage in Japan.
Twenty-one days before the start of the Olympics, FINA, the international governing body for swimming, granted Rule and Gebbie spots in the Tokyo Olympics.
Rule will partcipate in the women’s 100 and 200-meter butterfly races, while Gebbie will join the men’s 50 and 100-meter freestyle events.
The swimming events will be held at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre from July 24 to August 1.