Photo / www.ittf.com
8. Ian Lariba, Table Tennis
Lariba got her start in table tennis when she was scouted by Coach Noel Gonzales of the Philippine national table tennis team, while she was playing for the Palarong Pambansa at age 10. Her skills were quickly honed, as she was part of the team that won first place at the fourth division of the 2014 World Table Tennis Team Championships held in Tokyo, Japan. Lariba holds the honor of being the first Filipino contingent to represent the sport in the Olympics since its introduction in 1988. However, she lost at #Rio2016 after a match against Han Xing of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Photo / Nakano’s Facebook page
9. Kodo Nakano, Judo
Nakano was the last Filipino contingent to join the national team after being announced only two days ago. The latest Olympian had a busy 2013, when he competed in the World Judo Championship in Rio de Janeiro and the SEA Games. In this year’s SEA Games, he won the bronze medal at the 81kg category in the Southeast Asia Judo Championships in Napyidaw, Myanmar. Nakono will compete at the men’s 81kg category on August 9.
Photo / AFP
10. Charly Suarez, Boxing
Like Ladon, all eyes are on Suarez to win a medal this year after a 10 year drought. The last Filipino to win a medal for the sport was Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, who won a silver medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Suarez has won several medals in the past, including two golds at the 2009 and 2011 SEA Games, and four silvers at the 2010 Tammer Tournament, the 2011 Indonesia President Cup, the Kazakhstan President Cup, and the 2014 Asian Games. The boxer lost his chance to compete at the 2012 Summer Olympics after losing to a Chinese representative at the Asian qualifiers, but redeemed himself when he beat another Chinese boxer at this year’s qualifiers. Suarez will compete at the men’s light 60kg on August 7.
11. Marestella Sunang, Track and Field
Sunang is a third-time Olympian after representing the country in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. In the past, she has won five gold medals for long jump in the 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 SEA Games, and the 2009 Asian Championships. Sunang has also won a silver at the 2005 Asian Championships, and two bronze medals at the 2002 Asian Championships and the 2015 SEA Games. Her jump of 6.71m at the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang, Indonesia, is the record jump for the competition. Most impressively, she won the gold in this year’s Ayala-PATAFA Philippine National Open Invitationals after giving birth. Sunang will compete at the women’s long jump on August 17.
Photo / Tabal’s Facebook page
12. Mary Joy Tabal, Women’s Marathon
The Cebuana runner is hailed by the Sportswriters Association of Cebu as the athlete of the year for 2016. It’s no surprise: Tabal has won the women’s division title in the National Milo Marathon Finals for three consecutive years in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2015, she won the silver medal at the 2015 SEA Games. Even if the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) advised runners to participate in only two marathons a year to let their body rest, Tabal competes (and wins) in at least six. Tabal will compete at the women’s marathon on August 14.
Photo / AFP
13. Miguel Tabuena, Golf
Tabuena is considered as the Philippines’ top-ranked golfer, and will represent the country for golf, a sport that was only included in the Olympics in 1900, 1904, and 2016. Tabuena is the perfect choice: he has been playing since he was a year and a half old, and is the son of avid golfers. He has played at the Asian Tour since 2011, and is a regular player at the Philippine Golf Tour, where he has seven wins. This year, he was ranked as the sportsman of the year with Donnie Nietes and Nonito Donaire by the Philippine Sportswriters Association. Tabuena will compete at the men’s individual on August 11.
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