MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 01 August) – As of Sunday (Aug. 1), the Philippines is assured of at least three medals at the ongoing Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan courtesy of three Mindanawon athletes – weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, and boxers Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial.
Marcial, a middleweight from Zamboanga City, Diaz’ hometown too, won via a technical knockout in the first round against Armenian brawler Arman Darchinyan past 11 a.m. Sunday (Philippine time). The victory assures him of at least a bronze.
On Thursday, he won in his Olympic debut against Algerian Younes Nemouchi in a referee-stopped contest in the first round after his opponent sustained a cut in the head after an accidental head butt.
Among the first to congratulate Marcial Sunday noon was Tokyo 2020 gold medalist Diaz, who posted on her FB page: “Napa Amaze mo kame Doy (Eumir Marcial). Mapwersa! Makaproud keda chavacano, Airforce, y Filipino. Consistent K.O. ang kalaban. Please continue natin ipagpray mga Filipino athletes nasa Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
Both Diaz and Marcial are members of the Phililppine Air Force: Diaz is Airwoman Sergeant while Marcial is Airman First Class.
Petecio, a native of Davao del Sur, will go for the gold on Tuesday after outsmarting the taller European champion, Italy’s Irma Testa, in a nail-biter of a semifinal bout in the women’s featherweight class on Saturday.
She will face Japan’s Sena Irie, who won via a 3-2 split decision against Karriss Artingstall of Great Britain.
Still in contention for a medal is flyweight Carlo Paalam, a native of Bukidnon, and pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
Paalam entered the quarterfinals after beating veteran Olympian Mohammed Flissi of Algeria on Saturday.
He first trained in Cagayan de Oro City, where local officials saw his potential when he joined the Boxing at the Park tournament.`
Obiena entered the pole vault finals after clearing 5.75-meters on Saturday. He will compete for the gold against 12 other pole vaulters.
The last time the Philippines bagged more than one medal was in the 1932 Los Angeles Games, where swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso, boxer Jose Villanueva, and high jumper Simeon Toribio won bronze medals. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno / MindaNews)