It’s going to be a busy 2021 for these athletes who will also take part in the Vietnam SEA Games in November

By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Saii Shah

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, major sporting events around the world including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed. It’s been a tough year for those who don’t know when they’ll be able to compete again. Many were already gearing up and looking forward to Tokyo 2020—only to find out that they’ll have to wait another year. 

For the Philippines, four athletes have already qualified. Some even competed in their respective qualifying tournaments just before the lockdown in the Philippines was imposed. Since the Olympics have been moved to next year, these athletes will have their hands full with the SEA Games happening in Vietnam in November 2021 as well. Meet the top Filipino athletes who were supposed to represent the flag in the Olympics this year: 


EJ Obiena

Pole vaulter EJ Obiena was the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 24-year-old won three gold medals last year in the Asian Athletics Championships, Universiade and SEA Games. He qualified in the Olympics after surpassing the 5.80 qualifying standard in the men’s pole qualifying tournament held in Italy in September 2019. In the same tournament, he broke his own record with a 5.81-meter performance and is currently ranked 16th in the men’s pole vault world rankings. 

Carlos Yulo

Carlos Yulo isn’t new to the spotlight. He’s competed in a couple of tournaments around the world including the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships (where he became the first Southeast Asian podium finisher ever), Artistic Gymnastics World Cup and the SEA Games. Yulo booked his slot in the Olympics after claiming gold in the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics tournament held in Germany where he ranked 18th out of 160 athletes. 

Eumir Marcial

Eumir Marcial became the first Filipino boxer to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Marcial punched his way to the Olympics after winning in the middleweight category at the 2020 Asia Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament. He’s also bagged a number of gold medals for the Philippines in the SEA Games, specifically in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Marcial also won a silver medal at the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships held at Ekaterinburg, Russia. 

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Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 After I failed securing ticket way back 2016 in the Asia Oceania Olympic Qualification, I was discouraged and very indisposed towards my training. The reason that keeps me going during those moments was my promise to my Papa. After realizing that it's not too late to fulfill that promise. I trained hard to get where I am today and with the guidance of the Lord as I offer everything and asking Him every single day to hear my prayers. My father was the reason of my success in the Asia Ocenia Olympic Qualification 2020 as I got the gold medal in the said tournament and of course my ticket to the #2020TokyoOlympics. This is not yet the end of my journey rather the beginning of my dreams. Thank you to all your support and please continue to pray and support for my Olympic journey.🙏 Lesson: with prayers and hardwork impossible things becomes possible 👊 @mvpsportsfoundation @phil.sportscommission @philippine_air_force @crownroyalemanila

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Irish Magno

Another boxer who was supposed to represent the Philippines this year is Irish Magno. Magno earned her slot in the Olympics after winning via unanimous decision in the flyweight division of the Asia Oceania Olympics qualifying tournament. Arguably one of the most promising boxers in the country today, Magno won silver in the same division at the 2019 SEA Games.

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