It’s already an established fact that Filipinos are talented in almost every discipline. Whether it’s singing, acting, or designing, there’s always a Filipino name making a name on the international stage. The same goes for sports. We have produced names such as Manny Pacquiao, Teofilo Yldefonso, Japoy Lizardo, Lydia de Vega, Efren “Bata” Reyes, and Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno. And every four years, we get to showcase our best athletes in the Olympic Games, a global international event to recognize the best in their field.
This year, Rio de Janeiro is hosting the Summer Olympics, and the Philippines has sent 13 athletes to represent us. Here are our athletes:
Photo / AP
1. Jasmine Alkhaldi, Swimming
Alkhaldi is a returning Olympian after competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She swam the 100m freestyle in 57.13 seconds, ranking 34th out of 50 competitors. The following year, she won gold at the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, where she swam the 100m freestyle in 56.65 seconds. Unfortunately, the results were annulled after a false start. In the re-swim, she swam in 56.63 seconds, winning the bronze medal. She returned to the SEA Games in 2015, where she beat the Philippine national record and won three bronze medals. This year, she will compete at the women’s 100m freestyle on August 11.
Photo / Philstar.com
2. Kirstie Alora, Taekwondo
Alora was the Philippines’ flag bearer during the opening ceremonies, and will represent the country in the taekwondo competition. The first-time Olympian jin has tried three times to join the Philippine team, and has succeeded this year after winning the silver medal at the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament. She is in good hands: she was trained by Roberto “Kitoy” Cruz, a a taekwondo athlete who has won the gold medal in the SEA Games six straight times from 1991 to 2001. Alora will compete in the women over 67 kg category on August 20.
Photo / Pinoyathletics.info
3. Eric Cray, Track and Field
Cray, known as the fastest man in the Philippines, is the first Filipino to qualify for #Rio2016. Last year, he won the gold medal at the regional games in the men’s 400m hurdles at the SEA Games, adding to his collection of three gold medals at the SEA Games and one bronze from the Asian Indoor Championships. Cray will compete in the men’s 400m hurdles on August 15.
4. Nestor Colonia, Weightlifting
Colonia is a second-generation Olympian. His uncle, Gregoria Colonia, competed in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, and is training Nestor. After a failed attempt at the 2014 Asian Games in Seoul where he recorded a “no lift” after buckling under the weight, he has trained hard and won a bronze and gold medal at the 2015 and 2016 edition of the Asian Championship. Could his steady rise lead to another gold at #Rio2016? Colonia will compete at the men’s 56g category on August 7.
Photo / Mitrasites.com
5. Hidilyn Diaz, Weightlifting
Diaz will compete with Colonia at this year’s Olympics after training together. Like Alkhaldi, she is a returning Olympian after representing the Philippines in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, where she was the youngest in her category. Diaz also competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics. She was ranked 10th in the 53kg class of the 2006 Asian Games, and won the bronze medal the following year in the SEA Games in Thailand. Diaz will compete at the women’s 53kg category on August 7.
Photo / The Guidon
6. Jessie Lacuna, Swimming
Lacuna represented the country in 2012, where he was the youngest Filipino contingent. Despite his age, he has 51 gold medals to his name, 26 of which are from the Philippine Olympic Games and seven from the SEA Age Group Swimming Championship. He comes from a family of swimmers: his two older brothers are also champions. Lacuna competed at the 400m freestyle and finished 46th with a time of 4:01.70.
7. Rogen Ladon, Boxing
All eyes are on Ladon, the Filipino boxer who may trail after Manny Pacquiao’s footsteps if all goes well. Ladon shot to fame last year when he was named Discovery of the Year after winning the bronze medal at the world championships of the Asian Boxing Confederation. Despite being new to the scene, Nonito Donaire Sr. has praises for him, saying that he “knows how to land his punches.” Ladon will compete at the men’s light fly 49kg on August 8.