5 Filipino Sports Prodigies To Follow
Pinoy pride in the world of sports
The Olympics are already on our minds. So are the 19 Filipino athletes set to compete in Tokyo, Japan, in just a matter of days. It’s a tumultuous time given that COVID-19 still poses an imminent threat. But with sporting events like the Olympics, we’ll only continue to tip our hats to the outstanding names and faces of Pinoy pride in sports. Absolute inspirations in and out of competition.
What is a sports prodigy, you ask? These names ought to answer the question.
The 16-year-old Filipino tennis player is having quite the year. This month, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) named her the No. 2 Junior Player in the world, once again. And this young athlete is only getting started. After her impressive run at the junior grade A tournament held in Milan, the Rafael Nadal Academy scholar is looking at an even brighter future and career in sports.
“In the women’s pro circuit, Eala has also won a maiden title last January to slowly move up in the ranks from outside Top 1000 last year,” PhilStar reports. “She’s currently at No. 634 of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings.”
In the world of golf, the name to know is Yuka Saso. The Filipino-Japanese athlete has been at it since the age of eight; now at 20, she is steadily moving up the ranks in the Philippine golf scene, bagging medal after medal here and abroad. “Last June, [Saso] became the first Filipino golfer—male or female —to win a major championship,” reports ABS-CBN.” Her triumph at the US Women's Open in California was greatly celebrated in the Philippines; it also essentially clinched her spot in the Tokyo Olympics.”
The viral figure skating videos of Michael Martinez ought to jog your memory. Apart from his stellar routine that made rounds online, the now 24-year-old made headlines back in 2014 as the first Filipino and Southeast Asian to compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics. Flash-forward to 2021, Martinez is making his return with his eye on the gold.
The Olympic figure skater is currently going through stints of training (from New Jersey to Russia) ahead of the 2021 CS Nebelhorn Trophy event in September. The bigger goal, for Martinez, is to make it to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. “No tropical nation has ever won a Winter Olympic medal,” reports ABS-CBN. “Martinez aims to be the first.”
“What is a sports prodigy?” can also be answered by talking about Hidilyn Diaz. The weightlifting queen's win is being celebrated the nation-over.
“Her team has been saying we’re going to see a show and we’re in for a surprise,” Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella told PhilStar ahead of the athlete’s trip to Tokyo. The report continued: “If she achieves a podium finish with a medal of any color, the 30-year-old Diaz takes a special place in Philippine sports history.”
And she has, indeed, made history.
All eyes have been on Carlos Yulo: the 21-year-old artistic gymnast who participated in the qualifying round of the men’s artistic gymnastics tournament on Tokyo 2020's opening day.
His impressive résumé reads this way: first Southeast Asian male to win at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, was the most bemedaled Filipino athlete 30th SEA Games. And the list is only growing.