After the tremendous success of Philippine national athletes recently, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William I. Ramirez said that he believes that this is a good sign could finally end the 95-year-old gold medal drought in the Summer Olympic Games – a prestigious multisport event which only happens once every four years.
Ramirez is banking his hopes on 19 year-old Leveriza, Manila-born gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo.
Yulo made history by becoming the first Filipino gymnast to win a gold medal in the men’s floor exercise event at the 49th FIG World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany held last Saturday, October 12.
Four days before that, in that same event, Yulo secured his slot in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan after placing 7th in the men’s floor exercise final and ranking 18th out of 160 gymnasts in the men’s individual all-around.
Less than 48 hours after Yulo’s historic feat, Pinay featherweight Nesthy Petecio won a gold medal at the 2019 AIBA World Women’s Boxing Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia, to became the second Filipina world boxing champion following Josie Gabuco’s win in 2012.
Aside from the two latest Filipino world champions, national pole vault athlete Ernest John Obiena became the first Filipino qualifier for Tokyo 2020 after clearing 5.81 meters in the 2019 Salto Con L’asta in Piazza Chiari, Italy last September 3.
Before securing his Olympic ticket, Obiena had previously won two gold medals in the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships held in Doha, Qatar last April and ruled the 2019 Summer Universiade at Stadio San Paolo in Naples, Italy last July.
“If we come up with 20 qualified candidates, I think that will be one of the biggest Philippine delegations to the Olympics.” said Ramirez.
Last month, two other national athletes also raised the Philippine flag in the world stage courtesy of reigning Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz in weightlifting and middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial of boxing.
Diaz snatched a pair of bronze medals in the women’s 55-kilogram class of the 2019 IWF World Weightlifting Championships in Pattaya, Thailand to reach rank no. 3 in the world.
While Marcial, won a silver medal at the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships held in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Aside from these Filipino medalists, the PSC chief is also rooting for Cebu City native and 2018 Asian Games gold medalist Margielyn Didal.
Didal, who had previously placed 5th at the 2019 Street League Skateboarding in Los Angeles, California, USA, is currently no. 13 in the latest World Street Skateboarding rankings.
Another Filipino Olympic hopeful is Fil-Japanese judoka and 2018 Asiad silver medal winner Kiyomi Watanabe who is also in a good position in the women’s 63-kilogram class being top 26 in the world.
Watanabe is currently based and training in Waseda University in Japan and had previously placed 7th at Zagreb Grand Prix 2019.
“Dapat kapag may mga batang potensyal, ibuhos na natin yung suporta.” said Ramirez.
In the 1972 Olympics, the Philippines sent fifty-three (53) athletes, the biggest delegation of the country in the quadrennial meet which included the national basketball team.
During the 2016 edition held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz finally ended the 20-year medal drought of the country when she won a silver medal next to light flyweight Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco Jr.’s silver during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.