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The Most Inspiring, Feel Good Words from Team Philippines in Tokyo 2020

From going for gold to 'teka lang po'.
by Joel Guinto
Just now
Photo/s: Vincenzo Pinto, Agence France-Presse

Team Philippines made history at the Tokyo Olympics with the country's first ever gold medal and its best performance ever in the games with a four-medal haul.

Behind the feat were Millennial and Gen Z Athletes who inspired a new generation of sports fans with their perseverance, grit, humility and awareness of their own weaknesses.

Here are the most inspiring words from Filipino athletes at Tokyo 2020:

Hidilyn Diaz (gold medal, weightlifting)

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Diaz's journey started at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was tipped for gold in Tokyo when she won silver in the Rio Games in 2016. At 30, Diaz has her sights set on Paris 2024.

"Hindi puwedeng after winning, susuko na ako. Alam niyo naman na I need to still continue to inspire the young generation to still dream. Alam mo 'yung standard ng sports, tuloy-tuloy hanggang sa may susunod sa akin," she told reporters the day after her win.

Diaz is also aware of the significance of a woman winning the first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines in a sport that is traditionally for men. She said this to Summit Media journalists in March:

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Ang weightlifting kasi diba pag nagbubuhat ka, malalaglag yung matres mo. Sabi niya, wag ka jan, baka hindi ka mabubuntis at walang magkakagusto sayo magiging Amazona ka. Pero mas pinili ko pa rin yung weightlifting.. Kasi ito yung sports na pinapa-feel sakin na belong ako. Pinapafeel sakin na malakas ako," 

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Nesthy Petecio (silver medal, boxing)


When Petecio lit the cauldron during the Philippines' 2019 hosting of the Southeast Asian Games, she received the torch from Manny Pacquiao. It foreshadowed her ascent to boxing greatness.

After winning the Philippines' first silver medal since Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco in 1996, Petecio, a lesbian, proudly declared that she is part of the LGBT community.

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"Para rin po sa LGBTQ community ang laban na 'to," Petecio, 29,  said in a post-match press conference.

"I am proud to be part of the LGBTQ community. Sulong, laban!"

Carlo Paalam (silver medal, boxing)


Paalam, 21, kissed his Olympic silver medal for featherweight boxing, reminded of his roots picking trash in Cagayan de Oro City over a decade ago.

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The medal is made partly from recycled gadgets, which Paalam used to scavenge for in garbage heaps as a kid. Now he is one of just three Filipino boxers to finish with a silver medal at the Summer Games.

"Ito po kasi malaking bagay sa buhay ko eh... Nangangalakal ako dati," Paalam said, his voice shaking in near-tears during a post-match interview.

"Bago ako nag-start dito sa boxing, nangangalakal ako dati. Alam natin galing 'to sa mga gadget na sira... Parang gusto ko talagang mag-medal kasi gusto ko isalita yung buhay ko sa medal na 'to kasi simbolo siya ng buhay ko, sa'n ako nanggaling," he said.

Eumir Marcial (bronze medal, boxing)

Luis Robayo/Reuters
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The 25-year-old was the Philippines' flagbearer at the opening ceremonies and is proud of his bronze medal finish.

"This maybe a bronze medal but for me the value of this is gold because this is the fruit of all my sacrifices and tears. Proudly! I am a Filipino!" he said on Instagram.

EJ Obiena (11th place, pole vault)

Ben Stansall, Agence France Presse
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During the finals, Obiena caught the attention of fans for two things -- approaching a referee to calmly argue his point and wearing mismatched Spongebob socks. The UST alum is not afraid to make a point, even if assertiveness is not a traditional Filipino trait.

Us Filipinos are very timid. We are very ‘Yes po, Yes po, Yes po.’ But sometimes, you know, ‘Wait lang po puwede?’ Puwedeng ganun. ‘Wait lang po, may idea po ako’ or ‘Wait lang po, eto ‘yung tingin kong tama.’ I believe everybody should do it.

Margielyn Didal  (7th Place, Street Skateboard)

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Didal danced on TikTok before skating to a top 7 finish in Tokyo, in the process spreading good vibes with her braced smile and backwards cap. She kept it simple on Instagram.

"I'm really bad at caption and I hate drama but DAGHANG SALAMAT ??

wish we can have good skatepark/s in Philippines too so that I can share how fun skateboarding is ??"

Carlos Yulo (gymnastics)

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The Philippines' star gymnast crashed out of his favorite event and placed fourth in vault. The 21-year-old is looking to Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 for redemption.

"Hanggang 2028 po ako maglalaro, decided na po 'yan. Sa Paris po, babawi po talaga ako doon," he told ABS-CBN's Dyan Castillejo.

"Next time po iga-grab ko na talaga. Ayoko na lang na basta sumali ako, na-feel ko po na kaya ko rin maging katulad ng mga nakatayo doon po sa top," he said.

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