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The Philippines first competed in the Olympics in Paris one hundred years ago, in 1924. Track and field athlete David Nepomuceno was the only Filipino participant who competed in the 100- and 200-meter track events. Although he failed to reach the quarterfinals of both events, he cemented his legacy in Philippine sports history as the first-ever Filipino Olympian.


After a century and 14 medals—one gold, five silver, and eight bronze—Filipino athletes will continue on their pursuit toward Olympic success in Paris, France, the host of the 2024 Summer Olympics. With the competitions scheduled from July 26th to August 11th, 2024, there is growing anticipation for a potential repeat of weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz’s performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Philippines was the first Southeast Asian country to participate in the Summer Olympics, while Myanmar only participated in the 1948 London Olympics. However, Thailand (35 golds, 8 silvers, 17 bronzes) and Indonesia(36 golds, 13 silvers, 15 bronzes) have already surpassed the Philippines’ 14 medals. Singapore and Vietnam won their first gold medals in the 2016Rio Olympics, five years ahead of the Philippines.

The Philippines’ modest Olympic medal haul is actually the result of a handful of sporting events: weightlifting contributed two medals (1 gold and 1 silver), swimming gave two medals (2 bronze), boxing scored eight medals(4 silvers and 4 bronzes), and athletics produced two medals (2 bronzes). The Philippines won two medals in official Olympic demonstration sports: 1988 Seoul Olympics gold in bowling and 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze in taekwondo.

The first Filipino to medal inthe Olympics was swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso, who won a bronze medalin the 200-meter swimming event (breaststroke) at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics; he likewise won a bronze medal in the same event at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, making him the first Filipino multiple Olympic medalist. Meanwhile, the country’s first silver medal finish was courtesy of boxer Anthony Villanueva, who placed second in boxing’s featherweight division at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.


To date, the crowning glory of Philippine participation in the quadrennial games happened at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (actually held in 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic), where weightlifter Diaz won the country’s first-ever gold medal. Diaz climbed to a top podium finish and made Philippine history in weightlifting’s 55-kilogram event for women. Her victory in Tokyo was a fitting follow-up to her silver medal finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Tokyo Games were also the Philippines’ most productive participation since the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics (three bronze medals). Apart from Diaz’ gold medal, the country also won two silver medals (Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam) and one bronze medal (Eumir Marcial), all of which came courtesy of boxing.


Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham Tolentino is hoping that at least 19 athletes will be able to participate in this year’s Olympics, adding that “it will be very good if we again have 19 Olympians, but if we don’t have those numbers, the focus will be on the podium. Hopefully, we’ll haul more in Paris.”

Thirteen Filipino athletes have already qualified for the Paris Olympics as of May 7, 2024: one for athletics, three for boxing, one for fencing, one for gymnastics, one for rowing, and four for weightlifting. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) turned down former Senator Manny Pacquiao’s special request to compete in boxing due to his being over age 40, and Diaz regrettably did not make the cut this time.

The Philippine athletes who qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics are as follows: Ernest John Obiena, Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, Aira Villegas, Samantha Kyle Catantan, Carlos Yulo, Aleah Finnegan, Levi Ruivivar, Joanie Delgaco, Rosegie Ramos, John Febuar Ceniza, Elreen Ando, and Vanessa Sarno.

Tolentino has bared that the Paris Olympians will undergo a month-long training camp in Metz, France as part of their final preparation for the games. He also promised incentives for podium finishers, just as the POC gave the last batch of Filipino Olympic medalists.

ERNEST JOHN OBIENA (athletics, pole vault) was the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics after clearing 5.82 meters en route to winning a silver medal in the Stockholm Diamond League-Bauhaus Galan on July 2, 2023. He placed 11th in the Tokyo Olympics but has since surged to be the world’s number 2-ranked pole vaulter after winning various tough tournaments in Europe.

EUMIR MARCIAL (boxing) won the boxing (80-kilogram division) silver medal at the Huangzhou Asian Games in 2023, enabling him to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. After his bronze-winning performance at the Tokyo Olympics, Marcial will once again have the opportunity to go for a higher podium finish in Paris.

NESTHY PETECIO (boxing) qualified for the Paris games after advancing to the finals of the 57-kilogram division of the World Qualification Tournament in Busto Arsizio, Italy, on March 12. The Tokyo Olympics silver medalist will also have the chance to secure an Olympic boxing gold medal for the country.

AIRA VILLEGAS (boxing) is the third boxer gunning for gold at the Paris Olympics. She likewise earned a slot in the quadrennial games when she scored a unanimous decision victory over her Bulgarian opponent in the women’s 50-kg division in the World Qualification Tournament in Italy.

SAMANTHA KYLE CATANTAN (fencing) qualified for the Paris Olympics when she won a gold medal in the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on April 28, 2024. Catantan is the first Philippine fencer to qualify for the Olympics since Walter Torres represented the country at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

CARLOS YULO (gymnastics) qualified for the Paris Games because he was the highest-ranked eligible gymnast in floor exercises at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Although he failed to win the elusive gold medal in artistic gymnastics in Tokyo, Yulo will have an opportunity for redemption in Paris to prove that he is currently one of the world’s best gymnasts.

ALEAH FINNEGAN (gymnastics) is the first Filipina gymnast to qualify and compete in the quadrennial games since Evelyn Magluyan competed in five events at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Finnegan, who won two gold medals at the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games, qualified for the Paris games as one of the 14 highest-ranked gymnasts in the World Artistic Championships’ women’s all-around qualification.

LEVI RUIVIVAR (gymnastics) eventually followed Finnegan’s road to Olympic glory and is the third Philippine gymnast to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. On April 20, 2024, Ruivivar secured the silver medal in the uneven bars event at the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) World Cup in Doha, Qatar.

JOANIE DELGACO, a rower, qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics by placing fourth in the women’s single sculls event finals (A) at the World Rowing Asian and Oceanian Qualification Regatta in Chungju, South Korea, on April 21, 2024. Delgaco became the fourth Philippine rower and the first Filipina to participate in the Summer Olympics.

ROSEGIE RAMOS (weightlifting) followed in the footsteps of Diaz as an Olympian when she qualified for the Paris games by winning the 49-kilogram division of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup in Phuket, Thailand, on April 1, 2024.

JOHN FEBUAR CENIZA (weightlifting) qualified for the Paris Olympics on April 2, 2024, after meeting the sport’s qualification standards and placing fourth in the IWF World Cup.

ELREEN ANDO proved that she is an elite and world-class weightlifter when she outlifted Diaz in the IWF World Cup, on her way to qualifying for the Paris Olympics.

VANESSA SARNO (weightlifting) is the fourth Philippine weightlifter to qualify for the 2020 Paris Olympics after lifting a total of 245 kilograms (topping Group B) in the women’s 71-kilogram division of the IWF World Cup. Sarno likewise set a new Philippine record when she lifted 110 kilograms in the snatch event.

Maxine Esteban: The Philippines’ Loss, Cote D’Ivoire’s Gain

Samantha Kyle Catantan will not be the only Filipino fencer to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Maxine Esteban, a former member of the Ateneo de Manila University National fencing team, will also compete in the Paris Games, albeit under a different flag. She will represent Cote d’Ivoire in the Summer Olympics after switching federations in 2023. The Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) eventually approved her decision.

Esteban, who will also represent Cote d’Ivoire in other international fencing competitions, qualified for the women’s foil event at the Paris Games when she competed in the 2024 Absolute Fencing Gear FIE Foil Grand Prix in Washington, DC, United States, on March 15, 2024. Although Esteban finished the tournament tied for 83rd place, she earned enough ranking points to qualify as the top-ranked fencer in the African continental zone.

In a statement announcing her decision to switch fencing federations, Esteban explained that she did everything humanly possible to fulfill her long-time dream of representing and competing for the Philippines in the Olympics. “But a series of unfortunate events—very little of which I had any control over—forced me to chase my dream in a distant yet familiar land,” Esteban reiterated.

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