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Filipinas are representing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a couple of the athletes taking home gold for Team Philippines and Team USA. For Team Philippines Hidilyn Diaz took home the gold in Weightlifting in the Women’s 55kg even. Fil-Am Lee Kiefer took home gold for Team USA in Fencing in the Women’s individual foil.
The 30-year-old Diaz defeated other competitors, including world record holder Liao Qiuyun of China. She set a new Olympic record of 224 kilograms (total) in the women’s 55 kilograms weightlifting event. The historic victory ended the country’s gold-medal drought since it first participated in the Olympics in 1924. The Philippines now has a total of 11 medals: one gold, three silvers, and seven bronze.
Team USA’s 27-year-old Lee Kiefer is a three-time Olympian, five-time NCAA champion, 10-time Pan American champion, nine-time individual Pan American champion and 2018 world champion. She will be competing in the team fencing events and won the gold the individual event in Tokyo. She became the first American woman to hold the No. 1 spot in the International Fencing Federation rankings in 2017.⠀
Also on the look out is Philippines’ Nesthy Petecio who is guaranteed at least a bronze medal in the games in the women’s boxing featherweight quarterfinal. She recently won a match with an unanimous decision over Columbia’s Yeni Marcela Arias. Petecio becomes the first Filipino boxer to win an Olympic medal since Onyok Velasco’s silver medal in the 1996 Atlanta Games!
Here’s a few more Filipina-Americans athletes slated to compete:
Cover Photo Credit: Rappler Facebook
AAPI olympians have a long legacy throughout The Games’ history. Despite challenges of being “othered” or rendered invisible, many AAPI athletes have inspired others while making a name for themselves on the world stage, according to NBC New York. Winter Olympian Speedskater JR Celski and with more AAPI olympians talk about their inspirations for competing on a world stage.
Celski, born and raised in Federal Way, Washington, got into speed skating almost by accident. It was an activity for him and his brothers to let off steam while his mother worked late hours. When he decided to get serious about competing in the Olympics, he moved to Southern California with his brother, where he lived among a large Filipino American community, watching boxer Manny Pacquiao at the height of his career, and dedicating his own life to speedskating. For Celski, it was about representing his family, hometown, sport, and country.
In 1948, Filipino-American diver Victoria Manalo Draves won two gold medals before close friend and fellow diver, Korean-American Sammy Lee also won a gold medal. They both became the first Asian Americans to win gold at the Olympics however, not much information is accessible about Asian American Olympians who competed before them.
Also included is Olympic Takewondo Athlete, Paige McPherson who is Black and Filipino. She grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota to a “rainbow family” consisting of five children adopted domestically and internationally. She was first introduced to taekwondo because of her older brother, Kevin, who is of Korean descent. Their parents wanted to help her brother “understand something of his culture” then it filtered down to her.
McPherson made it through Olympic trials and will again represent the U.S. in taekwondo at the Tokyo games. Check out who else is making the team and learn about their stories.
Cover Photo Credit: JR Celski Twitter