AS the Tokyo Olympics drew to a close on Sunday, the Philippines was still inside the top 50 in total medals hauled, thanks to (clockwise from top left) the gold of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, silver of boxer Carlo Paalam, silver from female boxer Nesthy Petecio, and bronze of middleweight fighter Eumir Felix Marcial. — TOKYO 2020 AND REUTERS

PHL wins one gold, two silvers, a bronze at Tokyo Olympics

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE Tokyo Olympic Games came to an end on Sunday with the Philippines ending up with its best performance ever in nearly a century of participation.

After the competition smoke cleared, the country stood at 50th place in the medal tally on the strength of winning one gold, two silvers and a bronze during the 16-day competition.

It was the first multi-medal showing for the Philippines since 1932 when the country bagged three bronze medals in the Games held in Los Angeles.

But Tokyo 2020 was made all the more significant with the elusive first-ever gold medal finally won.

Hidilyn F. Diaz, 30, bannered what sports officials dubbed as the “Golden Olympics,” when on July 26 she won the top prize in the 55-kg division of women’s weightlifting and ended the long wait of the Philippines for an Olympic gold.

She did it in record-setting fashion, establishing an Olympic-best 127kgs in the clean and jerk for a total lift of 224 kgs, also a Games record. She lifted 97 kgs in the snatch.

Her victory served as inspiration for the rest of Team Philippines as it went on to continue the country’s campaign.

Together with the silver she won in the 2016 Rio Games, Ms. Diaz is now widely recognized as the best Olympian the Philippines has produced.

The boxing team also stood out in the just-concluded edition of the Summer Games, with three boxers out of four landing podium finishes.

Women’s featherweight Nesthy A. Petecio was the first to win a silver on Aug. 3 followed by flyweight Carlo Paalam four days later.

Interestingly, Ms. Petecio, 29, and Mr. Paalam, 23, almost did not make it to the Tokyo Games, having qualified because of their standings in their respective weight categories after the boxing task force of the International Olympic Committee decided to use the standings to fill up the remaining slots for the Tokyo Games because of the pandemic.

Their teammate, 25-year-old Eumir Felix D. Marcial (middleweight), settled for the bronze medal but not after making noise with dominant victories in his early fights and narrowly losing in a close fight in the semifinals.

Women’s flyweight Irish Magno, 30, was the other Filipino boxer who competed and made it to the Round of 16.

Rower Cris Nievarez, 21, was the first athlete from the Philippines to see action and advanced to the quarterfinals of the men’s single sculls event. He eventually finished 23rd overall out of 32 competitors.

Taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, 22, and shooter Jayson Valdez, 25, competed in the opening weekend of the Tokyo Games and put up a gallant showing.

And so did Filipino-foreign athletes Kristina Marie C. Knott (athletics), Luke Gebbie and Remedy Rule (swimming).

While he did not advance to the semifinals of the 100m men’s freestyle, Mr. Gebbie, 24, set a new national record with a swim of 49.64 seconds.

Gymnast Carlos H. Yulo, 21, had it rough in artistic gymnastics, failing to qualify in six out of seven events. But he came back stronger and managed to finish fourth in the vault final.

Weightlifter Elreen Ann Ando, 22, finished seventh in the women’s 64kg division but turned a lot of heads with her strength, further solidifying her standing as the heir apparent to Ms. Diaz.

Ernest John Obiena, 25, and Margielyn A. Didal, 22, both competed in the finals of the men’s vault and women’s street skateboarding, respectively, and were praised for the way they showed top-class talent and sportsmanship amid the competition.

Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, 24, struggled in her debut Olympics but vowed to continue working on her game.

In golf, Filipino bets made an impression at various stages of the four-round tournament.

US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso, 20, did not have a good start to her campaign, finishing at 47th place after the first round, but made a spirited charge back as the competition progressed, eventually landing tied for ninth overall.

Juvic Pagunsan, 43, and Bianca Pagdanganan, 23, for their part, were inside the top 10 early in the competition in their respective divisions.

“This is the best Olympics for the Philippines. We exceeded our expectations and we’re just proud of the athletes and what they have done,” said Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham N. Tolentino.

“And it’s not only those who won medals. Everybody showed up and gave their all.”

The POC official went on to say that hopefully, the gains in the Tokyo Games will be sustained moving forward just as he underscored the Filipino athletes are capable of competing with the best in the world.

“Tokyo showed that the Filipinos can compete on the big stage and provided they get the support they need for training, anything is possible,” Mr. Tolentino said.

Philippines’ Olympic medal haul through the years