After boxers Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, it's not goodbye as Carlo Paalam brings home another silver medal for the Philippines, bringing the country's medal tally to four—the most they've managed to get in a single Olympics.
While the Bukidnon native—who later moved to Cagayan de Oro—falls short of beating Great Britain's Galal Yafai, his journey to boxing and Olympic superstardom has been impressive and inspiring.
He was born to an ordinary farming couple and worked as a scavenger at a landfill in the city before becoming a boxer. The struggling teen won his first boxing match at just seven years old, using the prize money to buy rice for his family.
🗣️“The #silver medal symbolises what I went through because when I was a young boy, I was a scavenger and I collected junk and garbage.— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) August 7, 2021
"I know this medal is made out of recycled materials, and I can identify with it." - Carlo Paalam🇵🇭
Paalam's stunning performance in the quarterfinals—defeating reigning Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan via split decision made him an athlete to watch. In the semi-finals, he dominated hometown bet, Ryomei Tanaka via unanimous decision.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is Paalam's Olympic debut, he is currently ranked number 12 in the men's flyweight division and holds a Southeast Asian Games gold medal from 2019. He also has a bronze medal from the 2018 Asian Games.
He may not have gotten a gold—which would've been the country's first-ever in boxing—but he beat all odds and triumphed as an Olympic athlete, making his country proud.
This article was originally published on August 3, 2021 and was updated on August 7, 2021.