JAKARTA With a little under a week remaining in the ongoing Asian Games, the Philippines is currently ranked at 16th out of 46 participating countries, an improvement over our 22nd-place finish at the 2014 edition in Incheon. Despite the Gilas basketball squad being eliminated yet again by the Korean National Team, the Philippines has achieved its ranking on the strength of four Gold medal wins in sports most Filipinos might not necessarily be familiar with.
Yesterday’s winning skateboard performance by Margie Didal was the latest, as the 19-year old from Cebu claimed the country’s first skateboarding Gold with a near-flawless run of stunts that wowed the judges.
“I am very happy I did my best,” said Didal. “Sobra ang saya po, lalung-lalo na sa mga skateboarders natin.”
The daughter of a street vendor and a carpenter, the young skater’s path to the global stage has been astounding, with Didal been making her name in tournaments such as London’s Street League championships earlier this year, where she was the first-ever Southeast Asian invited to compete.
Of the Gold medalists, it is women’s 53-kg category winner Hidilyn Diaz who was the most recognizable entering the tournament. While the mechanics of competitive weightlifting are not well-known in the Philippines, Hidilyn has consistently proven herself in her chosen sport, scoring metal wins in local, regional, and international tournaments.
An athlete of humble beginnings, Hidilyn learned the sport after being invited by her cousins to try it out, training with makeshift equipment to accomplish her dreams. When she became the first Filipina to win a Silver medal at the Olympics in 2016, she was living proof that discipline, and hard work can overcome any challenge.
On winning the Gold, Hidilyn says, “I am grateful to God that I won the gold medal that all of us Filipinos dream of…This proves the Olympic gold medal is possible.”
In the meantime, Hidilyn is proud to be Team Philippines’ loudest (self-appointed) cheerleader, saying, “I try to encourage them to keep pushing, to keep fighting for flag and country,” said Hidilyn. “For me, if I was able to do it, win the gold, I’m confident our other athletes can also do it and I’m supporting them all out. I want to inspire them.”
The next two Golds came in the sport of golf, as three young Filipinas showed that age is no obstacle to determination, as 17-year old Yuka Saso emerged as the top golfer in the individual category, before joining teammates Lois Kaye Go (19), and Bianca Pagdanganan (20) against the heavy favorite China.
“Sobrang hirap po kasi alam po namin na magaling po yung team ng China,” Pagdanganan said in an interview. “Pero hindi ko inisip kung gaano kalayo yung score namin, sinubukan lang po namin na i-lift yung game namin.”
Hailing from different parts of the Philippines, the three golfers are currently making their names on the US tournament circuit, both as individuals and as representatives of their respective colleges in NCAA competitions.
Through their accomplishments, these medal-winning athletes have done themselves, and their country proud. And as they continue on their winning journeys, their victories serve as examples for everyone who would dream of following in their footsteps.
For more #AlwaysGame content, visit: www.playph.com