Team Pilipinas had just concluded its historic 2020 Summer Olympic Games campaign in Tokyo, Japan.
A total of 19 Filipino athletes competed in 11 sports — the most number of athletes the country has sent to the Games since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
And it was a historic batch.
Best Philippine Team Yet
The Philippines finished with its most medals in the Olympiad, with four podium finishers. It’s the biggest Philippine haul since 1932 when high jumper Simeon Toribio, men’s bantamweight boxer José Villanueva, and swimmer Teófilo Yldefonso all bagged bronze in Los Angeles.
Of course, Hidilyn Diaz was the star of stars after bringing home the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal. She topped the women’s minus-55kg category in weightlifting.
Boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam took home silver in the women’s featherweight and men’s flyweight divisions, respectively. Meanwhile, Eumir Marcial placed third in the men’s middleweight class.
Besides the medals, Diaz, Petecio, Paalam, Marcial, Yulo (fourth in vault), weightlifter Elreen Ando (seventh in minus-64), skateboarder Margie Didal (seventh in women’s street), golfer Yuka Saso (ninth), and EJ Obiena (11th in pole vault) finished within the top 12 of their respective sports.
Olympic and national records were also broken.
Diaz’s 127-kilogram clean and jerk lift and 224kg total were both Olympic marks.
In swimming, Luke Gebbie broke the national record in the 100-meter freestyle event when he clocked in at 49.64-seconds — breaking the mark he set in 2019 by 0.30 split seconds.
Gymnast Caloy Yulo’s 14.716 points garnered in the vault finals was also a national record.
Kings of ASEAN Region
After four Olympic cycles, Thailand’s reign on top of the Southeast Asian region had also ended after the 1-2-1 haul of the Philippines.
Finishing in second was Indonesia with one gold (women’s double badminton – Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu), one silver (men’s minus-61 kg weightlifting — Eko Yuli Irawan), and three bronzes (women’s minus-49kg weightlifting — Windy Cantika Aisah; men’s minus-73kg weightlifting – Rahmat Erwin Abdullah; men’s singles badminton – Anthony Sinisuka Ginting).
Thailand placed third with its one gold (women’s minus-49kg taekwondo — Panipak Wongpattanakit) and a bronze (women’s lightweight boxing — Sudaporn Seesondee).
Malaysia closed out the region’s medalists with one silver (men’s keirin cycling — Azizulhasni Awang) and one bronze (men’s doubles badminton – Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik).
A total of 170 athletes from the region competed in the games.
Tenth in Asia
A late gold rush by Uzbekistan dropped five nations in the continental rankings that include the Philippines.
With the Uzbeks winning two golds on the final day, Team Pilipinas dropped to 10th in the continent.
China, a country that suffered close 38-39 loss for the overall crown to the United States, still topped the region with 38 golds, 32 silvers, and 18 bronzes.
Host Japan placed second with 27 golds, 14 silvers, and 17 bronzes, while Korea had six golds, four silvers, and 10 bronzes.
Completing the top 10 are Iran (3-2-2), Uzbekistan (3-0-2), Chinese-Taipei (2-4-6), Qatar (2-0-1), India (1-2-4), Hong Kong (1-2-3), and the Philippines.
A total of 205 nations competed in the Games.
And the Philippines finished at tied for 50th place — a little over the top 25-percent in the world.
Team Pilipinas ended up with a tie with Slovakia, who tallied a 1-2-1 haul as well.
This is the Philippines’ best finish since the 1988 Games in Seoul that saw the country place 46th among 159 countries.
With the way things are going, there is no place to go but up for Team Pilipinas come the 2024 Paris Games.