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Girl power in Tokyo: Get to know the 10 female athletes representing PH at the Olympics

By Johanna Añes-de la Cruz Published Jul 22, 2021 11:16 pm

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics marks the first time the Philippines is sending more female athletes than male with 10 out of 19 delegates.

They will be competing in seven sporting events: weightlifting, judo, skateboarding, boxing, golf, swimming and athletics.

All 10 ladies have sacrificed so much to represent our flag with pride as they face off against the best of the best in the world’s biggest sporting event.

Get to know our country’s top female athletes who are ready and raring to go at the Tokyo Olympics.

1. Yuka Saso

Yuka Saso with her trophy at the 2021 US Women's Open. Photo from Yuka Saso's IG account

Filipino-Japanese golfer Yuka Saso found her name all over the news when she became the first Filipino to win a major golf tournament after she clinched the 2021 US Women’s Open title. This feat made her not only a household name in the Philippines, but catapulted her among the young golfers to watch.

Saso—at age 19 years, 11 months and 17 days—is tied with Inbee Park (2008 US Women’s Open champion) as the youngest golfer to win the tournament. Saso first gained popularity in the country when she won a double gold, the first for the country, in the 2018 Asian Games. The current women’s golf world No. 8 also qualified for the Japan Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association (JLPGA) where she had a remarkable back-to-back gold run in her rookie year.

Saso will compete in the women’s golf event on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the Kasumigaseki Golf Club.

2. Bianca Pagdanganan

Golfer Bianca Pagdanganan during the 2021 US Women's Open. Photo from LPGA’s Facebook page

In her maiden season in the LPGA last year, Bianca Pagdanganan made headlines when she finished at ninth place in the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championships and third place in the LPGA Drive On Championship in Georgia. The Quezon City native had an impressive amateur career with a Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold in 2019. Afterwards, she bagged the gold at the 2018 Asian Games with Saso as her partner, and took home her own bronze medal in the individual event.

Pagdanganan will compete in the women’s golf event on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the Kasumigaseki Golf Club.

3. Margielyn Didal

Pinay skateboarding sensation Margielyn Didal. Photo from Didal’s IG account 

Skateboarding sensation Margielyn Didal is all set to complete a “golden trio” after her stellar performance at the 2018 Asian Games and 2019 SEA Games street events. The feisty skateboarder from Cebu is currently ranked No. 13 in the world and makes her much anticipated debut appearance at the Olympics.

She’s this year’s Asia Skater of the Year awardee and was included in awards lists of esteemed publications such as the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 and the 2018 TIME Magazine’s Most Influential Teens.

Didal will compete in the women’s skateboarding-street event on Monday, July 26, at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.

4. Hidilyn Diaz

2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz. Photo from  Diaz's IG account

Hidilyn Diaz needs little introduction. The Philippines’ prized weightlifter has already made her mark at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she won the country’s third silver medal and ended a 20-year medal drought.

Diaz has her eyes on the gold and to upset top seed Jiang Huihua of China. This is her fourth straight Olympics.

Diaz will compete in the women’s 55kg weightlifting event on Monday, July 26, at the Tokyo International Forum.

5. Elreen Ando

Weightlifter Elreen Ando makes her first Olympic appearance in Tokyo. Photo from Ando's Facebook page 

Completing the country’s one-two punch in weightlifting is 22-year-old Elreen Ando. Widely considered as Hidilyn Diaz’s successor as the country’s weightifting queen, she showed that she is a force to be reckoned at the Asian Weightlifting Championships. Ando bagged two silvers and a bronze in the event, securing her a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics via continental allocation. The Cebu native also has a silver from the 2019 SEA Games.

Ando will be competing in the women’s 64kg weightlifting event on Tuesday, July 27, at the Tokyo International Forum.

6. Irish Magno

Boxer Irish Magno makes history as the first Filipina boxer to qualify for the Olympics. Photo from Magno's Facebook page

Last year, 29-year-old Iloilo native Irish Magno made history as the first Filipina boxer to qualify for the Olympics after winning the box-off for one of six Olympic slots in the women’s flyweight event in the Asia and Oceania qualifiers.

Magno started boxing at the young age of 16 while helping her family earn a living by farming. She has come far from her days in the rice and corn fields as she made her presence felt at three Southeast Asian games, winning silvers in 2015 and 2019, and a bronze in 2013.

Magno will compete in the women’s flyweight boxing event on Sunday, July 25, at the Kokugikan Arena.

7. Nesthy Petecio

Nesthy Petecio is determined to prove why she is indeed one of the country’s rising stars in boxing.

To say that Nesthy Petecio’s journey towards an Olympic berth was difficult is an understatement. Despite being currently one of our most bemedalled boxers, the Davaoeña has had a challenging road to Tokyo from a controversial loss at the 2018 Asian Games to initially falling short of clinching an Olympic berth in the Asia and Oceania qualifiers.

This time, in her first-ever Olympics, Petecio is determined to prove why she is indeed one of the country’s rising stars in boxing.

Petecio will be competing in the women’s featherweight boxing event on Saturday, July 24, at the Kokugikan Arena.

8. Kiyomi Watanabe

Kiyomi Watanabe’s appearance at the Games marks the third straight Olympics where the country will have a judoka.

Kiyomi Watanabe’s four consecutive SEA Games golds are proof of why she is the best judoka in Southeast Asia, even going on to bag a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games.

The 24-year-old Filipino-Japanese booked a ticket to the Olympics through continental quota in the women’s 63kg division as per the official qualification of the International Judo Federation.

Watanabe’s appearance at the Games marks the third straight Olympics where the country will have a judoka after Tomohohiko Hoshina in London 2012 and Kodo Nakano in Rio de Janeiro 2016.

​​Watanabe will compete in the women’s 63kg judo event on Tuesday, July 27, at the Nippon Budokan.

9. Kristina Knott

Kristina Knott broke the SEA Games record, not once, but twice in one day in the women’s 200m event.

Filipino-American sprinter Kristina Knott wowed Filipinos when she broke the SEA Games record, not once, but twice in one day in the women’s 200m event. She is the current Philippine record holder of 23.01 seconds, which she set in the 2019 SEA Games. Track and field icon Lydia de Vega’s old record was 23.35 seconds.

Knott will compete in the women’s 200m run on Monday, Aug. 2, at the Olympic Stadium.

10. Remedy Rule

Swimmer Remedy Rule with her parents. Photo from Rule's IG account

Remedy Rule saw action at the 2019 SEA Games where she won a silver in the 200m butterfly and a bronze in the 200m freestyle. The Filipino-American swimming standout has already competed with top swimmers in the US and graduated as a 13-time Big 12 champion representing the University of Texas.

Despite her impressive competitive history—US NCAA, pro swim leagues, the SEA Games—the Tokyo Olympics might her last in her swimming career as she has her eyes set on pursuing a Master’s Degree in Biology at the University of Miami.

Rule will be competing in the women’s 200m freestyle on Monday, July 26, and 200m butterfly on Tuesday, July 27 at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.

Banner photos from the athletes’ social media accounts.