Rep. Bambol Tolentino (standing) with (from left) Eumir Felix Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, Hidilyn Diaz, Carlo Paalam and Onyok Velasco at Tolentino’s office at the House of Representatives.

The Golden Year of Philippine sports.

Nothing more, nothing less, so said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino of 2021, the year when a strongwoman from faraway Barangay Mampang in Zamboanga City lifted her way to victory and claim for the country its first Olympic gold medal in 22 appearances in the quadrennial Summer Games.

“This is a year of congratulations for all of us—for breaking several milestones in our sports,” Tolentino said. “The perfect description for this year is The Golden Year of Philippine Sports.”

Tolentino was one of the most ecstatic Filipino inside the Tokyo International Forum that fateful July 26 evening when Hidilyn Diaz, appearing in her fourth straight Olympics, won a contest of brute strength—and tactics—by lifting Games records of 127 kgs in the clean and jerk and 224 kgs in total lift that went with her 97 kgs in snatch en route to the women’s -55kgs gold medal of weightlifting.

“The year 2021 saw us attain multiple medals highlighted by that elusive gold in the Tokyo Olympics,” Tolentino said. “The Covid-19 pandemic may have slowed us down, but the ever resilient Filipinos have again proven that we rise against the odds.”

With three medals coming from boxing—silvers from men’s flyweight Carlo Paalam and women’s featherweight Nesthy Petecio and bronze from men’s middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial—the delayed Tokyo Olympics emerged as the best ever for the Philippines since it first attended the Games in 1924 in Paris.

Diaz led a 19-strong Team Philippines in Tokyo with all the athletes, although missing the podium, providee a peek of how medal potential they would become come the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“Although the rest on Team Philippines didn’t win a medal in Tokyo, their determination and their youth make them strong candidates when we return to the Olympic stage in Paris,” Tolentino said. “Remember, Hidilyn was a young, unassuming and innocent 18-year-old when she competed in her first Olympics in 2008 in Beijing.”

Tokyo, Tolentino said, was the springboard to future successes in the Olympics.

“Yes, the Filipino athlete can win in the Olympics. Yes, we have the capability and we will build on that success,” he said.

The success in Tokyo hiked the Philippines’ overall Olympic haul to one gold, five silver and eight bronze medals, a blessing Tolentino said was well longed for and appreciated.

“This year is marked by a spirit of happiness for the blessings we have received,” he said. “We share these blessings to all athletes and coaches, to all the NSAs [national sports associations] that have contributed and supported their athletes to the best of their abilities and resources.”

Tolentino, also the president of the cycling association, said the successful campaign was a team effort—from the athletes themselves and their coaches and to their NSAs and sponsors.

“This year, golden as it was, we’re also in the spirit of gratitude to all the sponsors, the media and stakeholders who have been in support of our athletes,” he said.

The honor roll included the Philippine Sports Commission, MVP Sports Foundation, San Miguel Corp., AirAsia, Philippine Airlines, Milo, Max’s, Asics, St. Luke’s Medical Center, among others.

“My heartfelt gratitude extends to you and your family, a Blessed 2022 to us all in the sports community,” Tolentino said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (