Meet The 2016 Philippine Olympic Team
Armed with years of committed practice, discipline, and a whole bunch of prayers from families and friends, 13 qualified athletes comprising the Philippine Olympic team will be wearing the country’s colors as they compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Despite the county’s 20-year medal drought in its long history of joining the Olympics, Philippine Olympic team officials are hopeful this year’s power delegation will finally bring home the elusive gold medal.
Housed at the Olympic Village in Barra da Tijuca where they will be staying for the entire period of the Summer Games, the Philippine Olympic Team has likewise been prepped for terrorist threats and against the Zika virus outbreak currently threatening the host country.
Here are the 13 athletes composing the Philippine Olympic Team who will be fighting for the Filipino pride at the world-class competition:
Nestor Colonia and Hidilyn Diaz (Weightlifting)
Bagging the 2016 Asian Weightlifting Championships Bronze Medal in Uzbekistan, 24-year-old Nestor Colonia will be competing in the Weightlifting – Men’s 56kg Category as allowed by the International Weightlifting Federation. Nestor is being coached by none other than his uncle Gregorio Colonio, who is a 1988 Olympian and shares his passion for going for the gold.
Three-time Olympiad Hidilyn Diaz will be competing in the Weightlifting – Women’s 53kg Category after years of elite training and exposure to top-level tournaments. The 25-year-old pride of Zamboanga is looking to make her biggest break this time around on top of bagging the gold both in the 2015 Southeast Asian Weightlifting Championships and the 2015 Asian Championships.
Kristie Elaine Alora (Taekwondo)
The lone she-wolf representing the country in the martial arts event, Kirstie Elaine Alora has definitely conquered much in making her way to the global arena from just being an oppressed grade school student from Laguna. Kirstie bagged two bronze medals from the Asian Games and won a silver medal in 2016 Asian Qualifying Tournament.
Ian Lariba (Table Tennis)
21-year-old Ian Lariba will go down in history as the first Filipino table tennis player to ever qualify for the Olympics. The designated flag bearer for the Philippine team in Rio 2016, Ian has long made a name for herself for finishing her entire five-year college record without dropping a singles match—other than her lengthy list of individual as well as team championships.
Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna (Swimming)
Representing the Philippines in the 100m freestyle is 23-year-old Jasmine Alkhaldi who won 8 bronze medals in the SEA Games. Having discovered her passion for swimming at the age of 11, Jasmine eventually qualified to suit up for the Rainbow Wahine, a prestigious athletic team at the University of Hawaii where she earned a much-deserved scholarship.
At the tender age of eight, Jessie Khing Lacuna has already made a name for himself when he took home the title for the 100m Butterfly Category in the 2nd Batang Pinoy National Championships, his first countrywide competition. The two-time Olympiad has been named Co-Athlete of the Year in this year’s UAAP tourney after bringing home 7 gold medals, where he suit up for the Ateneo de Manila University.
Miguel Tabuena (Golf)
Miguel Tabuena was named Sportsman of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriter Association in 2015. Ranked no. 4 in the Asian Tour Order of Merit, Miguel made his first U.S. Open July of this year and won his first Asian Tour title when he bagged the highest laurels in the Philippine Open the previous year.
Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez (Boxing)
Competing in the Rio Olympics’ Light Flyweight Category is 22-year-old Rogen Ladon who hails from Negros Occidental. World-class trainer Nonito Donaire Sr. and Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines Director Ed Picson are big fans of the silver medalist for the 2015 Asian Championships, SEA Games, and the Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification tourney.
Two-time SEA Games gold medalist and 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Charly Suarez will be fighting for the Philippine pride in the Lightweight – 60kg Boxing Category. The ten-year veteran of the country’s boxing team TKOed his way to Rio 2016 after practically breaking his Chinese opponent Shan Jun’s nose at the Qualifiers.
Mary Joy Tabal, Marestelle Torres-Sunang, and Eric Shauwn Cray (Track and Field)
Working her way to becoming a regular at national meets like Batang Pinoy and Palarong Pambansa at an early age, Mary Joy Tabal continues to make a killing in both the local and international marathon arenas. The 26-year-old Cebuana athlete made an extraordinary feat of winning the National Milo Marathon Finals for three years and the silver in the 2015 SEA Games.
The Philippines’ reigning long jump queen Marestella Torres-Sunang has won gold in the 2009 Asian Championships. The four-time gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games worked hard to make a gigantic comeback (after going on a hiatus with a maternity leave) when she set a national record and made a personal best when she won the Kazakhstan Open.
Filipino-American Eric Shauwn Cray broke the SEA Games record when he finished in 49.40 seconds the previous year. The three-time SEA Games gold medalist and 2016 Asian Indoor Championship bronze medalist also prides in the human relations master’s degree and education degree that he holds on top of the many athletic accolades he has earned for his name.
Kodo Nakano (Judo)
Kodo Nakano is a 23-year-old judoka will be the bet of the Philippine Olympic Team in the Men’s 81kg event in the Rio Summer Olympics. Dubbed as the team’s Lucky 13th, Kodo only got his invitation three days prior the start of the Summer Games when an Iranian judoka withdrew his slot. The Filipino-Japanese athlete has already been in Rio as he represented the Philippines in the 2013 World Championships.