While everyone remembers Philippine Olympian weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s Silver Medal win two days ago, she is far from the only Filipina who traveled to Rio 2016 in hopes of bringing back glory for the nation. Another Pinay with medal dreams is Jasmine Alkhaldi, and, at a little past midnight tonight, she will be representing the Philippines in the Olympics’ 100-meter women’s freestyle heats, with hopes of making it to the semis shortly afterward.
A Bronze medalist at the 2013 and 2015 SEA Games, Alkhaldi was born the second of three children, and decided to follow in her father’s footsteps in becaming a swimmer – no mean feat, considering Jasmine’s career nearly ended prematurely when she fell into a pool, unable to swim, at the age of three.
As far as competition goes, Alkhaldi is a class unto herself, having been scouted at the age of 11, leading to her first SEA Games at 16, followed shortly by her entering the University of Hawaii on a swimming scholarship as an International Business Major.
Today, she is a returning Olympian, having represented the Philippines at the London Games in 2012 at the age of 19. These days, Alkhaldi looks back on her 2012 performance (34th out of 50) and says that she used it as a starting point to improve from and is confident that she’s used the intervening years to train “100-percent harder”.
Near as PlayPH can tell, she isn’t kidding: currently, she holds the Philippine women’s records in the 50, 100, and 200-meter freestyle, as well as the 50- and 100-meter butterfly events. Since arriving in Rio in the last week of July, she’s used the time to acclimate and get in some last-minute training for her event.
This is the 20th Olympic Games to feature the Philippines taking part in a swimming event, which our swimmers have been joining consistently since the ones we sat out for World War 2, and in 1980, when Moscow served as host city. Previously, the only Pinoy to bring back any Olympic metal for swimming is the legendary Teofilo Yldefonso, who won two Bronzes over three appearances (Amsterdam 1928, Los Angeles 1932, and Germany 1936).
As Hidilyn Diaz has shown us, however, there’s nothing the Filipino spirit can’t accomplish and now, on the grandest stage of them all, Jasmine Alkhaldi will have the chance to show the world what she’s got.
Good luck, Jasmine!