Pinoy Olympians lag behind

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2021 - 12:00am

The Philippines has made 21 appearances in the Olympics since 1924 and delivered a total of 10 medals in eight Summer Games. That means in 13 Olympics, the Philippines came home without a medal or a losing rate of 62 percent. Five of the 10 medals and four of the last five were from boxing. Athletics and swimming accounted for two bronzes each but the medals were delivered eons ago, in 1928, 1932 and 1936. The tally is two silvers and three bronzes from boxing, a silver from women’s weightlifting and two bronzes each from athletics and swimming.

The Philippines ranks second in the dubious list of countries with the most Olympic medals but no gold. Malaysia is first with 11 medals (seven silvers, four bronzes) and no gold. Countries that have already won at least a gold in the Olympics include Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Syria, Jordan, Mongolia and Fiji.

Over the last five Olympics, the Philippines was represented by a delegation of an average of 15 athletes participating in an average of 7.8 sports and only weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz managed a medal, a silver in 2016. In comparison, Thailand averaged 47.2 athletes, 13.4 sports and 5.4 medals. Thailand has competed in 16 Olympics since 1952 but did not medal in only six. Thailand has won at least a medal in the last 10 Olympics and its overall haul of 33 medals is composed of nine golds, eight silvers and 16 bronzes. Focusing on specialty sports, Thailand has zeroed in on women’s weightlifting and boxing. The strategy paid off as women’s weightlifting has brought in five golds and boxing, four. Thailand has captured 33 Olympic medals from only three sports----weightlifting (14, including 13 in the women’s classes), boxing (14) and taekwondo (five, including four in the women’s weight divisions). Female athletes have contributed 17 of the 33 medals.

Here are the averages of three other Southeast Asian countries in the last five Olympics. Malaysia----32 athletes, 9.8 sports, 1.6 medals; Indonesia----31.8 athletes, 9.6 sports, 4.4 medals and Singapore, 20.6 athletes, 6.4 sports and 0.8 medal. Malaysia’s 11 medals were from badminton (six golds, two silvers), diving (one silver, one bronze) and cycling (one bronze). Indonesia’s harvest came from badminton (seven golds, six silvers, six bronzes), weightlifting (six silvers, six bronzes) and archery (one silver). Eight of Indonesia’s 12 weightlifting medals were in the women’s classes. Singapore’s medals were from swimming (one gold), table tennis (one silver, two bronzes) and weightlifting (one silver).

Despite a headstart, the Philippines has lagged behind Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand in terms of Olympic performance. Singapore has collected only five Olympic medals but one was a gold from swimmer Joseph Schooling in 2016. Will the Philippines mark a golden breakthrough in Tokyo this year? So far, only six athletes have qualified----gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter E. J. Obiena and boxers Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno and Carlo Paalam. Yulo has trained in Tokyo the last four years while Obiena is in camp in Italy. Marcial is getting ready in Los Angeles and will join the boxing team in the Asian Elite Championships in New Delhi on May 21-31. The other boxers are now training in Thailand before moving to India.  The target is to send 15 to 20 athletes to Tokyo and the Olympic hopefuls include Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan of golf, skateboarder Margie Didal, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, judo’s Kiyomi Watanabe, karate’s Junna Tsukii, Joane Orbon and Jaime Lim, Eric Cray and Kristina Knott of athletics, Ariana Dormitorio of cycling, taekwondo’s Pauline Lopez, Kirstie Alora, Kurt Barbosa, Arven Alcantara and Butch Morrison and triathlon’s Kim Mangrobang.

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