By: Mabel Villanueva
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were finally held more than a year after it was postponed. During these unprecedented times where people around the world are separated from friends and family due to lockdowns and health regulations, the International Olympic Committee held firm to the event’s slogan “United by Emotion”.
“Sport is universal. It is an invaluable treasure that we believe has the power to unite the world through emotion—even if we are apart, speak different languages, or come from different cultures,” said the International Olympic Committee in a statement.
And indeed, this year’s Olympics did succeed in its goal of uniting people in celebration, as national hopefuls from different countries proved their outstanding skills in their respective sports. As one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events has concluded, let us look back on the Southeast Asian winners who did not just bring pride and glory to the region, but have also uplifted the spirits of their countrymen by giving a sense of hope for the future.
Hidilyn Diaz became the first Olympic gold medalist from the Philippines after winning the women’s 55kg weightlifting category.
Nesthy Petecio won a silver medal for the women’s boxing featherweight category making her the first Filipina Olympic boxing medalist.
Carlo Paalam, a former scavenger turned millionaire after bagging the silver medal for men’s boxing flyweight division.
Eumir Marcial gave Philippines the first men’s boxing medal since 1996 after bagging bronze in men’s middleweight category.
Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu continued Indonesia’s badminton legacy after winning the eighth gold medal in the country’s Olympic history.
Meanwhile, Anthony Ginting has won Indonesia’s first medal in men’s singles since 2004 after bagging a bronze. He also became the first badminton player to win a medal at both the Youth Olympic Games and the Olympic Games.
In addition, Indonesia collected three medals in weightlifting after Eko Yuli Irawan won a silver medal for men’s category (61kg), Rahmat Erwin Abdullah a bronze medal also for men’s category (73kg), and Windy Cantika Aisah a bronze for women’s category (49kg).
Panipak Wongpattanakit brought home Thailand’s first-ever gold upon winning taekwondo women’s 49kg category.
Sudaporn Seesondee became the first Thai woman boxer to win an Olympic medal after earning a bronze.
Azizulhasni Awang took home a silver medal from men’s keirin category which made him a remarkable Malaysian athlete for holding more than a single Olympic medal since he had previously snagged a bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik who fought in badminton men’s doubles delivered Malaysia’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics, with a bronze.
All in all, Southeast Asia collected 13 medals combined in Tokyo 2020 Olympics. These medals also included a lot of firsts for each country, showing that with the skills and the support to back it up, our fellow countrymen are able to do their best in the biggest sporting stage in the world.
The next Olympic Games are scheduled for 2022 in Beijing, China and we can’t wait to see what gold our fellow Southeast Asians will bring home next.