Cover TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 26: Margielyn Didal of Team Philippines reacts while competing during the Women's Street Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Urban Sports Park on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

With their superhuman abilities and dedication, these Filipino athletes took the centre stage and brought honour to the country

So much passion and hard work go to the training of the athletes we know and love today. When everyone else is asleep, these people have tirelessly worked and poured their hearts out in the name of success, honour, and sportsmanship.

In this article, Tatler lists Filipino athletes who have made headlines around the globe. 

1. Paeng Nepomuceno

Bowler Rafael "Paeng" Villareal Nepomuceno has been dubbed as the greatest international bowler in history by the Guinness Book of World Records. During his sports career, he has won six World Bowling Championships. In 1999, he became the only bowler ever bestowed the International Olympic Committee President's Trophy.

As of this post, Paeng has three unbroken records, these are:

  • Being the youngest World Tenpin bowling champion
  • Winning the most Bowling World Cups won in three different decades
  • Winning the most worldwide titles in a career

Today, Paeng spends his time promoting bowling wherever he goes. He has become a trustee of the Philippine Bowling Federation and also serves as a sports lecturer at the University of the Philippines (UP).

2. Margielyn Didal

Professional street skateboarder Margielyn Arda Didal stole many people's hearts during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. Her positive outlook and pleasing personality brought her name to the headlines of local and international news.

Didal ended her Tokyo 2020 Olympics campaign with a seventh-place finish in skateboarding's women's street event. In the 2018 Asian Games, the athlete bagged a gold medal for the Philippines.

See also: Tokyo Olympics 2021: Meet Filipino Representatives Carlos Yulo, Hidilyn Diaz, And More

3. Gabriel “Flash” Elorde

In the 1960s, every Filipino knew of the name Gabriel "Flash" Elorde. The professional boxer from Cebu won the world super featherweight title on March 16, 1960, by knocking out then defeating world champion American-Portuguese Harold Gomez in just seven rounds. 

Inaugurated both as a World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) champion, Elorde has opened the door to future champions like Manny Pacquiao. 

4. Manny Pacquiao

When Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao is in the boxing ring, Filipinos are glued to their television screens; the roads are clear; and sports bars, basketball courts, and restaurants offer private screenings so people could get the first dibs on the fight.

Pacquiao is regarded as one of the greatest professional boxers of all time. The athlete was the first boxer to win the lineal championship in five varying weight classes—welterweight, lightweight, flyweight, featherweight, and super featherweight.

He is also the only boxer to hold world championships across four succeeding decades: in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s.

Read more: Manny Pacquiao: 5 Boxing Fights That Defined His Career In The Ring

5. Efren “Bata” Reyes

Professional pool player Efren "Bata" Manalang Reyes has records that are very hard to beat. The player won more than 70 international titles. He is a four-time World Eight-ball champion, the 1999 World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) Nine-ball champion, a three-time U.S. Open winner, a two-time World Pool League champion, and a 14-time Derby City Classic champion.

Reyes also represented the country during the 2006 and 2009 World Cup of Pool events with his partner Francisco Bustamante. 

Reyes is dubbed "The Magician" for his exemplary performance on the pool table. 

Related: 6 Filipinos Competing at The Tokyo Paralympics 2021

6. Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski

Equestrienne Mikaela María Antonia "Mikee" de los Reyes Cojuangco-Jaworski is more than just a beautiful face. At the young age of 16, she joined her first international competition at Shizuoka, Japan where she placed third at the individual show jumping event.

In the 2002 Asian Games held in Busan, South Korea, Cojuangco won gold in the jumping individual competition and silver for the jumping team.

In 2020, Cojuangco-Jaworski has become part of the powerful International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board after she was voted into the body during the virtual IOC session. The athlete was elected along with fellow equestrian Gerardo Werthein of Argentina to a four-year term.

Cojuangco-Jaworski also enjoys other sports like basketball and golf. 

Read more: In Conversation with Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski on Hidilyn Diaz, the Olympics, and the Power of Women

7. Robert Jaworski

Robert Jaworski also known as the “Big J”, is a former professional basketball player and head coach for the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) and Philippine Basketball Association.

Known for his "Never Say Die" attitude in court, Jaworski is widely regarded as one of the best and most popular PBA players of all time. In 2015, he was included in PBA's 40 Greatest Players. He was also inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 2005.

 

8. Hidilyn Diaz

Weightlifter Hidilyn Francisco Diaz made history when she went home with the Philippines' first Olympic gold medal in her hands. Earlier in her career, she won a bronze medal in the 2007 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Thailand. She also competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics where she was the youngest competitor in the women's 58-kg category.

During the 2016 Summer Olympics, Diaz won the silver medal in the women's 53-kg weight division, ending the Philippines' 20-year Olympic medal drought.

Last July 26, 2021, Diaz won the country's first Olympic gold medal for the women's 55 kg category for weightlifting. Diaz has also set the Olympic records for the 55 kg division in the clean and jerk at 127 kg and in the total at 224 kg.

More from Tatler: Hidilyn Diaz: 5 Things You Should Know About The Filipina Olympic Champion

9. Lydia de Vega

Sprinter Lydia de Vega was considered Asia's undisputed fastest woman in the 1980s. She first made headlines in the sports industry for her gold medal performances in the 200 and 400-meter SEA Games events. De Vega won the gold in the 100 meters at the 1987, 1991, and 1993 SEA Games, she also won both the 100 and 200-meter golds in the Asian Athletics Championships-1983 and 1987. 

De Vega was also a two-time Olympian, she represented the Philippines at the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics. The athlete retired after she joined the track and field event of the 1994 Manila-Fujian games held in October. She won the 100m event. 

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