The Summer Olympics that started on July 23 will end today. The Closing Ceremonies will commence at 8 p.m. (Tokyo time) or 7 p.m., Philippine time. Our silver medalist Nesthy Petecio is expected to carry the Philippine flag tonight as we celebrate our most successful Olympics ever.
Team PHI first joined the quadrennial meet in 1924 in Paris. (Coincidentally, the 2024 Olympics — our 100th anniversary — will also be held in Paris.)
There’s a saying that goes, “Ang una ra’y lisod.” (Only the first is most difficult.)
I believe this holds true for Philippine sports. After a 97-year-long wait before Hidilyn Diaz won our first Olympic gold medal last week, it’s possible that we’ll achieve another golden moment three years from now in the capital of France.
Petecio has gained extra Olympic experience in Tokyo. Carlo Paalam is only 23 and will be in his prime in 36 months. Same with Eumir Marcial, only 25 years of age.
Margielyn Didal is our Cebuana hero. In a field of 20 skateboarders, she placed a highly respectable 7th place. Didal, the Asian Games gold medalist, did better than the world’s No. 1 street skater, Pamela Rosa, in the Olympics. Only 22, she’ll inspire many in the Philippines to try skateboarding. She’ll also be aiming to compete and medal in Paris 2024.
Hidilyn Francisco Diaz is the gallant and gritty champion of the world. The tens of millions of pesos that she’s receiving — plus the cars, Manulife insurance, houses, PAL free flights, free food, etc. — will only motivate so many of our Filipino youth to take up sports and “Be like Hidilyn.”
Thanks to Hidilyn and Nesthy and Margielyn, the Tokyo Olympics is also a celebration and triumph of the women.
The same is true for the entire Olympic movement in Tokyo. Of the almost 11,000 athletes, nearly 49 percent are women. This is up from 45.6% in Rio and 44.2% in London. This focus on “gender equality” is good.
We only need to remember the lone athlete who lit the Olympic flame during the Opening last July 23. It was Naomi Osaka.
Mixed-gender events — a total of 18 — were included in the Olympics. These included archery, athletics, badminton, equestrian, judo, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tennis and triathlon.
Four sports federations (for the first time) have moved to gender-balanced events. These include canoe, rowing, shooting and weightlifting.
One example of mixed teams is triathlon. Each squad is composed of two women and two men. Each triathlete has to swim for 300 meters, pedal for 6.8K and run a 2K before tapping the hand of a teammate for him/her to continue.
“The mixed events are truly important because they really embody the equality of male and female athletes on the field of play,” said IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell. “There is nothing more equal than a male and female competing as one team on the same field of play towards the same sports performance.”
The Tokyo Games is a winner — the most gender-balanced Olympics ever. To our Philippines, this is affirmed by the golden Ms. Hidilyn Diaz.