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Hello, Tokyo!

Margielyn Didal has come a long way from getting chased by the police to chasing the country’s first Olympic gold medal.

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF HIDILYN DIAZ/FB HIDILYN Diaz shoots for the gold medal that has been eluding her for 13 years.

Not even the coronavirus pandemic could stop Filipino athletes from marching to the Tokyo Olympics.

So far, a total of 15 athletes have already qualified ranging from elite athletes like 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz and three-time Asian Games champion Eumir Marcial to those who pulled a surprise like Elreen Ando, Chris Nievarez and Jayson Valdez.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MARGIELYN/FB
MARGIELYN Didal tries to become the first Filipino skateboarder to win an Olympic medal.

The list of qualifiers will still increase with the looming addition of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and two wildcard bets from swimming, giving the Filipinos a handsome chance to win their first gold medal since joining the Olympics 97 years ago.

Here are the athletes who have already booked their Olympic tickets:

EJ OBIENA
Athletics
Manila

• 2019 SEA Games gold medal
• 2019 Asian Athletics Championships gold medal
• 2021 Jump and Fly gold medal

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CARLOS YULO/FB
CARLOS Yulo puts his Japanese training to an ultimate test.

After breaking the Philippine outdoor pole vault record, EJ Obiena is looking on track to get past the six-meter mark in the Olympics. Tough battle awaits him as he will be stacked against an elite field of competitors bannered by reigning Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil and world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden.

KRISTINA KNOTT
Athletics
St. Croix, Virgin Islands

• 2019 SEA Games gold medal (4×100 meters mixed relay)
• 2019 SEA Games gold medal (women’s 200 meters)

Kristina Knott may have suffered coronavirus, but it doesn’t dampen her spirits to banner the country in the women’s 200-meter event of the Summer Games.

MARGIELYN DIDAL
Skateboarding
Cebu City

• 2018 Asian Games gold medal (women’s street)
• 2019 SEA Games gold medal (women’s street)
• 2019 SEA Games gold medal (women’s Game of Skate)

Margielyn Didal has come a long way from getting chased by the police to chasing the country’s first Olympic gold medal. She will be competing for the first Olympic gold medal in skateboarding as the sport debuts in Tokyo.

HIDILYN DIAZ
Weightlifting
Zamboanga City

• 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics silver medal
• 2018 Asian Games gold medal
• 2019 SEA Games gold medal

After breaking the country’s 20-year medal drought in 2016, Diaz looks to dial up her performance in the Tokyo Olympics and do one better than her last Olympic stint.

ELREEN ANDO
Weightlifting
Cebu City, Cebu

• 2019 SEA Games silver medal

Ando was supposed to focus on the Paris Olympics but it looks like she will see her Olympic dream earlier than expected after qualifying via the continental quota.

CRIS NIEVAREZ
Rowing
Atimonan, Quezon

• 2019 SEA Games gold medal

Nievarez pulled off a surprise when he qualified in the Tokyo Olympics. He is only the third Filipino rower to make it to the Olympics behind Edgardo Maerina and Benjie Tolentino.

KIYOMI WATANABE
Judo
Cebu City

• 2013 SEA Games gold medal
• 2015 SEA Games gold medal
• 2017 SEA Games gold medal
• 2018 Asian Games silver medal
• 2019 SEA Games gold medal

Watanabe may be young at 24 years old, but she had already collected a lot of medals in the international arena. Now, she’s facing a new challenge as she debuts in the Tokyo Olympics.

JUVIC PAGUNSAN
Golf
Bacolod City

• 2001 SEA Games gold medal men’s individual
• 2005 SEA Games gold medal men’s individual
• 2005 SEA Games gold medal men’s team
• 2018 ICTSI Negros Occidental Golf Challenge champion
• 2019 ICTSI Bacolod Golf Challenge champion
• 2021 Mizuno Open champion

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF EJ OBIENA/FB
EJ Obiena is ready to soar against the world’s best pole vaulters.

Pagunsan’s Olympic qualification came to a surprise as he leaped to No. 50 in the Olympic rankings after an impressive win in the Mizuno Open in Japan. He will make a sacrifice of skipping the British Open for a chance to win a gold medal in the Summer Games.

JAYSON VALDEZ
Shooting
Pasay City

• 2015 SEA Games bronze medal

After punching an Olympic ticket via a quota system, Valdez looks to pull off a shocker of emerging victorious in the Summer Games. More than doing it for the country, an Olympic victory will ultimately put Valdez out of the shadow of his father in three-time SEA Games champion Julius Valdez.

NESTHY PETECIO
Boxing
Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur

• 2019 SEA Games gold medal
• 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships gold medal

After back-to-back gold medals in the SEA Games and the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, Petecio is now aiming to claim the women’s amateur boxing’s biggest prize.

CARLO PAALAM
Boxing
Balingoan, Misamis Oriental

• 2017 President’s Cup gold medal
• 2018 Asian Games bronze medal
• 2019 SEA Games gold medal

From picking up garbage in a landfill in Bukidnon, the pride of Cagayan de Oro will now try to pick up a gold medal when he sees action in the Tokyo Olympics.

IRISH MAGNO
Boxing
Janiuay, Iloilo

• 2013 SEA Games bronze medal
• 2015 SEA Games silver medal
• 2019 SEA Games silver medal

Magno, who used to wear her father’s shorts just to train for local fights, will try to essay a fitting ending to her Cinderella story by competing in the Tokyo Olympics.

EUMIR MARCIAL
Boxing
Lunzuran, Zamboanga

• 2011 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships gold medal
• 2013 Asian Youth Championships gold medal
• 2015 SEA Games gold medal welterweight
• 2017 SEA Games gold medal middleweight
• 2018 Asian Games bronze medal
• 2019 SEA Games gold medal
• 2020 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament gold medal

With massive experience under his belt, Marcial aims to become the first Filipino to win the gold medal in the Olympics. He trained under the watchful eyes of Hall of Famer Freddie Roach in the professional ranks and now polishing the Olympic-style of fighting in Colorado Springs in the United States.

KURT BARBOSA
Taekwondo
Bangued, Abra

• 2019 SEA Games gold medal

After getting his Tokyo berth in the dying seconds of the 2021 Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament, Barbosa hopes to spring another surprise when he vies against the world’s best jins.

CARLOS YULO
Gymnastics
Manila City

• 2019 2018 World Cup Series gold medal
• 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships gold medal
• 2019 SEA Games gold medal
• 2019 2019 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup series gold medal
Despite a one-year delay in the Olympics, Yulo is still determined to put on a show to prove that the Filipinos can also win against the world’s best athletes.

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