1. Hidilyn Diaz
Hidilyn Diaz made history by winning the Philippines’ first-ever gold medal in the 2022 Tokyo Olympics. She dominated the women’s 55-kg weightlifting category, a feat not achieved in 97 years since the country’s first participation in the Olympics in 1924. Diaz, a 30-year-old Filipina athlete, set an impressive Olympic Record with a 224-kilogram lift to win the championship round, surpassing the world record holder from China, Liao Quiyun. Her Olympic triumph brought pride to her hometown of Mampang, Zamboanga City. Diaz’s greatness continued with three gold medals at the International Weightlifting Federation world championship in December 2022.
2. Lydia De Vega
Maria Lydia De Vega was Asia’s legendary sprint queen in the ’80s. She won 15 golds, 6 silvers, and 3 bronzes in international events like the Asian Athletic Championship, Asian Games, and South East Asian Games. She was known for her speed in the 200m, 400m, and 4x100m events, and held the national record of 11.28 seconds for almost 37 years. Sadly, she passed away last year due to breast cancer, just a month after her diagnosis.
3. Alex Eala
Alex Eala’s talent in lawn tennis was recognized at a young age. She consistently proves that she can keep up with the best players of her generation. In 2021, Eala made history by winning the French Open with her partner Oksana Selekhmateva. She became the first Filipina to win a junior Grand Slam title since 1985. Eala, a 17-year-old left-handed player, finished second in the ITF Junior ranking in the world, showcasing her exceptional skills on the court. Currently, she is training at the Rafael Nadal Academy to further hone her abilities. At the South East Asian Games, Eala won three bronze medals in women’s singles, mixed doubles, and team events, earning pride for her country. Eala’s name continues to resonate in the tennis world due to her beauty on the court and her unwavering determination to succeed.
4. Rubilen Amit
Rubilen “Bingkay” Amit is a professional female pocket billiard player who is brave and presumptuous. She has won 10 gold, 6 silver, and 1 bronze medal in the South East Asian Games, as well as the 8, 9, and 10-ball world cup championships and other international competitions. Bingkay believes that billiards is not just a sport for men, and she offers free lessons to women to help them develop their skills. Her commitment to teaching has led to the establishment of the Amit Cup tournament. Despite her dedication to teaching, Amit continues to compete in international tournaments, where she has achieved the title of World No.5, making her one of the best billiard players in the world.
5. Nesthy Petecio
Nesthy Petecio is the first woman to win in women’s boxing at the 2022 Tokyo Olympics. She has won 2 gold, 6 silver, and 3 bronze medals throughout her career in amateur boxing. Petecio’s campaign at the Tokyo Olympics will be remembered despite her loss to Japanese boxer Iri Sana, who was also the first female boxer medalist in her country. Petecio’s beginnings in boxing were challenging, as she had to participate in inter-barangay fights to earn money. However, at the age of 11, she defeated a taller male boxer, catching the attention of the national team who recognized her potential. Petecio continued to work hard in the ring until she achieved her Olympic dream.