PH Olympian profiles: Medal hopefuls from boxing, skateboarding star Didal and top judoka Watanabe

Published July 19, 2021, 7:31 AM

by Carlo Anolin

didal paalam magno watanabe

Margielyn Didal

Margielyn Didal

Margielyn Didal has written history in her own way as far as the Tokyo Olympics is concerned. Didal, 22, becomes the first Filipina skateboarder to qualify for the Olympics as skateboarding officially marks its official launch in this edition.

The jolly Cebuana, ranked No. 17 in the world and. No. 5 in Asia, will compete against the best of the best namely Brazilians Pamela Rosa, Rayssa Leal, her idol Leticia Bufoni, Japanese Aori Nishimura and Momiji Nishiya, among others.

Didal, considered as the face of the Philippine skateboarding scene and the first winner of the Asia Skateboarder of the Year, hopes to continue her legacy in the sports following successful stints in the 2018 Asian Games and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, where she hauled gold medals after gold medals.

Carlo Paalam

Carlo Paalam (MB File)

Carlo Paalam’s surname literally means a goodbye.

But Paalam isn’t about to say goodbye to his Olympic dream as he tries to become the first medalist in boxing alongside teammate Eumir Felix Marcial since Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco last copped a silver medal in the men’s light flyweight in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

From being a scavenger to backyard boxer, and now an Olympian, the 22-year-old flyweight boxer from Cagayan de Oro hopes to reinforce his name in the sports after winning a bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games and ruling the 2019 SEA Games

Irish Magno

Irish Magno (ABAP)

Irish Magno, the women’s flyweight counterpart of AIBA 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing champion Nesthy Petecio, also a fellow Olympian, made history in the sport as the first Filipina boxer to reach the Olympics.

Magno did so by being the “wild card” in the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament after being denied an outright entry following a loss in the quarterfinals.

Since there are six slots left, Magno held on and was awarded the rare chance to get the Olympic slot. Just like other athletes, Magno, a multi-medalist in the SEA Games, used boxing as a way to provide for her family in Iloilo.

Magno, 29, won two silver medals in the 2015 and 2019 edition and a bronze medal in 2013.

Kiyomi Watanabe

Kiyomi Watanabe (IJF)

Kiyomi Watanabe is the queen judoka in Southeast Asia.

After bagging four straight gold medals in the 63kg division at the SEA Games, the Filipina-Japanese is set to take on a bigger challenge by competing against the world’s best judokas — this time in the Tokyo Olympics.

Watanabe, the female flag bearer of the Philippines, also copped the country’s first silver medal in the 2018 Asian Games.

Despite falling short of a gold medal in the 2018 edition, Watanabe will pound her way to make both Filipinos and the Japanese people loud and proud. (Carlo Anolin) ###