Get to know all 22 Filipino athletes competing at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris

Will we get another gold at the Olympics this year?

As of this writing, July 2, the Philippine contingent to the Paris Olympics gained two new qualifiers, bumping the total to 22 athletes representing nine sporting events. A mix of new hopefuls and returning Olympians, these athletes will vie for medals at Paris 2024, happening from July 26 to August 11. 

The spotlight shines brighter for these 22 hopefuls, especially since the Philippines had its best medal haul yet at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. With the country’s first gold, two silvers, and a bronze medal, the Philippines was the top performing Southeast Asian nation—a title it previously held in 1964.

Get to know these athletes who will represent the Philippines in its 100th year of participation in the Olympics:

Carlos Yulo

Photo: Adidas

Heralded as the most successful Filipino gymnast of all time, Carlos Yulo is a six-time world championship medalist (two medals per category), a 10-time Asian champion, and a nine-time SEA Games champion. He is also the first Filipino and male Southeast Asian gymnast to win a medal at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Back in Tokyo 2020, he finished fourth in the vault finals.

The Yulos are an athletic family: Carlos’ younger siblings (Karl Jahrel and Elaiza Andriel) are gymnasts, while his older sister (Joriel) is part of the National University Pep Squad. He began training for gymnastics at age seven after seeing Filipino gymnasts train and compete at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in his hometown of Malate, Manila. 

EJ Obiena

Ranked second in the world in men’s pole vault, EJ Obiena just keeps setting the bar higher for himself. With numerous World Championships and Asian Games medals under his belt, a current national record holder (which he has broken multiple times), and an Asian record holder, Obiena is also the first Filipino athlete to be granted a scholarship by the International Athletic Association Federation (IAAF).

A trainee of legendary pole vault coach Vitaly Petrov, Obiena was first trained by his father Emerson Obiena for various track and field events as a child. The older Obiena, also a pole vaulter, won medals for the Philippines at the SEA Games in his prime.

Aleah Finnegan

Filipino-American artistic gymnast Aleah Finnegan began representing the Philippines internationally in 2022. Previously, she was part of the United States’ national team, winning gold at the 2019 Pan American Games.  Within her Philippine national team career, she has won bronze for the vault and balance beam in the 2023 Asian Championships. In the 2021 Southeast Asian Games, she also won gold for vault and led the Philippine team to first place. 

Concurrently, Finnegan represents the Louisiana State Tigers in the US collegiate ranks. She is the 2024 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) floor exercise champion and a 2023 silver medalist. Her siblings are also gymnasts: Sarah Finnegan was an alternate for the American olympic team in 2012, while Hannah Finnegan represented the Philippines in the 2011 SEA Games. 

Levi Jung Ruivivar

Los Angeles native Levi Jung-Ruivivar qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics after garnering enough points at the 2024 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup series. The Filipino-American artistic gymnast began representing the Philippines in 2023; previously, she competed with the US national team from 2021 to 2023. 

In the NCAA, Jung-Ruivivar plays for the Stanford Cardinal, the athletic teams of Stanford University and record holder for the most NCAA team championships with 136. 

Emma Malabuyo

Five-time US national team member Emma Malabuyo decided to represent the Philippines in 2023, debuting for the country at the 2023 Asian Championships. There, she propelled the Philippine team to a fifth place finish, won a silver for floor (the highest for a Filipina gymnast at the said event), and a fifth standing at balance beam. 

While representing the Philippines internationally, Malabuyo is also competing with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins for the NCAA. The team is known for recruiting top elite gymnasts across North America. 

Nesthy Petecio

Photo: Adidas

Nesthy Petecio is the Philippines’ first female Olympic medalist in boxing, winning silver at Tokyo 2020. After a split-decision victory at the Road to Paris 1st World Qualification Tournament held in Italy last March, Petecio hopes to clinch the gold this time around. 

Hailing from Davao del Sur, Petecio used boxing as a means to help her family financially. She began at a young age, getting her big break at 11 years old, where she knocked out a male opponent with a bigger build in a boxing match held in Davao City. This victory caught the attention of Philippine women’s team coach Roel Velasco, who then paved the way for Petecio to be part of the national team. 

Aira Villegas

Aira Villegas punched her way to a Paris 2024 ticket after defeating Bulgaria’s Zlatislava Chukanova in the women’s 50 kg category at the 1st World Qualification Tournament in Italy. She previously competed in the 2022 Asian Games and won a bronze medal in the 2019 SEA Games.

A native of Tacloban, Leyte, Villegas began her boxing career at a young age, inspired by her brother, who is now the boxing coach of Leyte Sports Academy. She’s been part of the Philippine national team since 2012. 

Carlo Paalam

Carlo Paalam hopes to win another medal—and hopefully gold this time—after winning silver in his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. Paalam qualified for Paris 2024 after a unanimous decision win over Sachin Siwach of India in the men’s 57kg division semifinals of the 2024 Boxing 2nd World Qualification Tournament in Bangkok.

Paalam’s boxing journey began at a young age, winning his first match at only seven years old. Boxing bouts were his way to support his family, which moved from Misamis Oriental to Cagayan de Oro city in search of better opportunities. As a child, Paalam scavenged in landfills while joining weekly boxing fights at his local park to buy basic necessities. It was through these matches that he was discovered: after being placed under Cagayan de Oro’s boxing program in 2009, he made it to the national team in 2013. Prior to the Olympics, Paalam secured a prestigious gold medal at the 2019 SEA Games.

Eumir Marcial

Photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

After his bronze win at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, boxer Eumir Marcial will compete and vie for a better finish in Paris 2024, where he will fight in the super-middleweight division. The Zamboangeño boxer is signed under MP Promotions, helmed by boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.

Boxing runs in Marcial’s genes: his father is a boxing coach, while his cousin Anthony Marcial represented the Philippines for boxing in the 2006 Asian Games. Marcial’s wife, Princess Jenniel Cabradilla Galarpe, was a former women’s boxing national team member and also hails from a family of boxers. 

Hergie Bacyadan

Before Hergie Bacyadan’s boxing career, the Igorot athlete was a wushu and vovinam (Vietnamese martial arts) athlete. In his other sports, Bacyadan won medals from various international competitions, including a first-place finish at the 2023 Vovinam World Championships, making him the first Filipino champion.

Bacyadan first debuted as a boxer internationally at the Bangkok 2019 ASBC Asian Elite Boxing Championships, where he knocked out United Arab Emirates’ Hanan Al-Zeyoudi. He officially qualified for Paris 2024 after defeating Venezuela’s Maryelis Yriza at the 2024 World Olympic Qualification Tournament 2 held in Bangkok. 

Samantha Catantan

Photo: Adidas

Sam Catantan’s Paris 2024 qualification broke the Philippines’ 32-year Olympic drought in fencing. She clinched a hard-earned victory at the women’s foil category in the Asia-Oceania Zonal Olympic Qualifier in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, enduring a left knee injury that she sustained at the latter part of the competition. 

A Penn State University student, Catantan was a University Athletics Association of the Philippines standout, playing for the University of the East in the juniors category, where she was the most valuable player in Season 82. 

Bianca Pagdanganan

Born and raised in the Philippines, Bianca Pagdanganan’s competitive golfing experience has been quite diverse. Up until 2015, she played in various national competitions in the Philippines; in the collegiate ranks, she played for Gonzaga University in Washington and the University of Arizona. Internationally, she represents the Philippines, having garnered medals in the 2018 Asian Games and the 2019 SEA Games. She turned pro in 2020.

Dottie Ardina

Dottie Ardina will make her Olympic debut this year in Paris, representing the country in women’s golf. The 30-year old athlete previously qualified for Rio 2016, but declined to participate in light of the Zika virus threat at the time. 

Her previous outing at the 2006 World Amateur Team Championships, wherein she was just 12 years old, set a record for the youngest golfer ever to compete in the said tournament. She turned pro in 2013 and has three professional wins under her belt.

Kiyomi Watanabe

Japanese-Filipino judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, the Tokyo 2020 flagbearer for the Philippines alongside boxer Eumir Marcial, makes a return to the Olympics. She will be competing at the 63 kg weight category.

Born in Cebu to a Filipina mother and a Japanese father, Watanabe is a four-time SEA Games champion and silver medalist at the Asian Games. She got her degree in Sports Science at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. 

Joanie Delgaco

Joanie Delgaco holds the honor of being the first Filipina rower to represent the country in the Olympics. She qualified for Paris after finishing fourth in the women’s single sculls in the World Rowing Asian and Oceanian Qualification Regatta, held last April in South Korea. 

Delgaco is a native of Iriga, Camarines Sur. The 26-year-old is the fourth rower from the Philippines to make it to the Olympics; previously, Cris Nievarez participated at Tokyo 2020, ending a 20-year drought for the Philippines in the said sporting event. 

Jarod Hatch

Born and raised in the United States, Jarod Hatch has been a member of the Philippine national team since 2018. A 2019 SEA Games silver medalist for the 4x100m freestyle relay, Hatch previously retired from the sport in 2021, only to return in 2022. 

Hatch then gathered three medals in the 2023 SEA Games (one silver, two bronze) and set the Philippine record for the men’s 100m butterfly event, clocking in at 52.87 seconds at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships.

Kayla Sanchez

Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Filipino-Canadian swimmer Kayla Sanchez is a two-time Olympian, having competed in Tokyo 2020 under the Canadian flag. She was part of the Canadian women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team that won silver in the previous Olympics. 

Born to Filipino parents based in Singapore, Sanchez first represented the Philippines in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Sanchez announced her move to represent the Philippines in 2022, hoping to inspire more Filipinos to take on the sport. 

Elreen Ando

Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Holding the national records for Philippine women’s weightlifting at the 59 kg and 64 kg categories, Elreen Ando garnered enough points for Paris 2024 after a seventh-place finish at the  International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup in Phuket, Thailand last April.

Hailing from Cebu Province, Ando has previously competed in the Tokyo Olympics and has won medals at the Asian Games, Asian Championships, and the SEA Games. 

Vanessa Sarno

An Asian Games and SEA Games gold medalist, Vanessa Sarno holds various national records in Philippine women’s weightlifting across the 71kg and 76kg categories. She qualified for Paris 2024 after a stellar outing at the IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand—the same event where Ando competed.  

A native of Tagbilaran, Bohol, Sarno took up the sport after seeing her cousins train in their local gymnasium. Her father was also an influential figure, having been a former powerlifter in his youth.  

John Ceniza

Cebuano weightlifter John Ceniza also qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics via a fourth-place finish at the IWC World Cup in Thailand, lifting a total of 300 kg. Prior to this, he was already in a good position for qualification, ranking 6th in the Olympic Qualification Ranking (OQR). 

Ceniza holds the national records for mens’ weightlifting in the Philippines for the 55 kg and 64 kg categories. He previously won two silvers at the SEA Games (2019, 2023) and a bronze medal at the 2020 IWF World Cup in Rome. 

Lauren Hoffman

Representing the country in the women’s 400m hurdles, Lauren Hoffman is the Philippines’ national record holder for the said event. She clocked in at 55.72s at the 114th Drake Relays last April 2024, enough for a silver finish at the event. 

A two-time top eight finisher at the Asian Games, the 25-year old is also a two-time national champion, having finished first at the 2022 Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2022 and the Philippine Championships held last May 10 at the Philsports Track Oval in Pasig. An alum of Duke University, Hoffman began representing the Philippines in October 2023. 

John Cabang Tolentino

John Cabang Tolentino will compete in the men’s 110m hurdles in Paris. The Filipino-Spanish athlete currently holds the Philippine national record for the event at 13.37s, a personal best that he achieved at the 2024 International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) Philippine Athletics Championships.

The national champion has previously ranked within the top eight of the Asian Games and the Asian Championships. He has also won championships for the men’s 110m hurdles in Spain. 

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