Philippines NOC reflects on social implications of Tokyo 2020 success

© POC (Abante, Babae = Lead the way, young women)
© POC (Abante, Babae = Lead the way, young women)

Manila, Philippines, August 12, 2021: After nearly a century of trying, the Philippines finally snatched an Olympic gold medal courtesy of a woman — a feat that also outweighed a three-hour-long State of the Nation Address, reports the Philippine Olympic Committee.

Filipinos were triumphantly united when weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won the first gold medal for the country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

The pride of Zamboanga City successfully carried a nation worn out by the world’s longest and strictest lockdown on her shoulders. From the apparent lack of financial support to unfounded accusations from the government, Diaz powered through to bag the gold.

But, apart from making a name in both the local and international sports scene, Diaz broke many gender barriers and stereotypes in a sports-mad and ultra-masculine country. 

“I wasn’t aware that I was making Olympic records and I can’t believe that my name is in the Olympic record books,” Diaz said.

Diaz’s victory at the Tokyo International Forum proved that women can strongly emerge in stereotypically masculine sports if given enough support and opportunities. The Philippines was competing in the Olympics with a female-dominated delegation. Of the 19 Filipino athletes, 10 of them were women.

2021 must be a defining year because the gap between men and women in sports is slowly narrowing. The International Olympic Committee said it is encouraging and supporting the promotion of women in sport “at all levels and in all structures with a view of implementing the principle of equality of men and women.” The IOC also wants to involve women in essential organisational positions.

Meanwhile, boxer Nesthy Petecio and skateboarder Margielyn Didal, proud members of the LGBTQIA+ community, also made significant strides in the international sports arena.

Petecio, who clinched the silver medal for the women’s boxing featherweight division, dedicated her victory to all the members of the community.

“I am proud to be part of the LGBTQ community,” Petecio said in an international press conference. 

Didal, the Asian Games champion in Palembang in 2018, finished strong at 7th place in skateboarding women’s street and also stole the limelight during the sporting event. The sportsmanship of the good-humored skateboarder captured many hearts with her aura and quirky gestures.

“That’s how skateboarding is. It doesn’t matter what your nation or culture is, or what language you speak ‘cos we have the same passion,” Didal said.

The future is bright for Filipino athletes and the dream of a gender-equal sporting arena is at our fingertips. There’s still so much left to do but we did not come this far to only go this far. 

Surely, the whole country, perhaps even the world, will forever remember how these women changed Philippine sports history. Herstory. Our history.

Article by Marina Roberto • Aug 11, 2021