IT is sad to see our two defending champions getting ousted in the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in a most unusual, if not dismaying, fashion.
Margielyn Didal placed a dismal seventh among eight entries, losing her skateboarding crown she won in the 2018 Asiad in Jakarta.
Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo nosedived to a crude fourth, fumbling in a new weightlifting division as her old throne she had captured in 2018 was unceremoniously scrapped in the 19th edition of the quadrennial Games.
I was actually more shocked than stunned seeing Didal falter, especially when it was revealed—she admitted it—that she was still nursing an injury when she plunged to action.
It was totally out of order for Didal to be competing. This is not an inter-barangay event, where even unfit contestants can join, and are allowed to mix it up for all the world to care.
This is the Asiad mind you, where only the continent’s best compete on the highest level ever. That is why the Asian Games is considered the Olympics of Asia, where 45 nations are presently entered.
Further, more than 12,500 athletes are in China competing in no less than 48 disciplines—a colossal jump from only six sports played in the 11-nation, 1951 Asiad inaugurals in New Delhi.
And why the high and mighty Hidilyn was thrust into new territory was something out of this world?
She gallantly gave us our first Olympic gold in almost a century in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, crafting the stunner in the 55-kilo event.
But as sudden as the crack of thunder after a flash of lightning, Hidilyn’s comfort zone was removed in the Asiad. The warrior that she has always been, she plodded on.
I know she did it, will continue to do it, if only to prove to her compatriots that she is not a quitter. Since her golden triumph in Tokyo, she keeps saying she did it for the Filipino people.
In fact, despite adding four deadly kilos to her new 59-kilo event in China, Hidilyn will compete in two more qualifiers in her tedious bid to make it to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
We can only pray and next hope that she completes the miracle. I say miracle because time seems not to be on her side; she is turning 33 next year.
And, yes, if Hidilyn makes it to Paris 2024, that’d be her fifth straight Olympiad. A record. Omigosh!
THAT’S IT The Arayat Football Club that won silver behind Thailand in the recent 7-nation, LaLiga Youth Tournament in Malaysia featured Anaiah Sotto, the lone girl in the Philippine U12 Team. For her exploits, Anaiah, the team’s co-captain with Angelo Fernando, was drafted to join the Kaya Women’s Team to become, at 12, the youngest ever to play alongside women double her age in the Philippine Football Federation Women’s League. With the likes of Anaiah showing signs of greatness this early, the future looks bright for Philippine women’s football. “Anaiahmania” coming? Proud father Wahoo Sotto, take a bow.