The Olympic Games – a sporting event so grand that its roots lie in the fact that people aimed to please the chief of all Greek gods, Zeus.
National athletes become iconic the moment they compete in the Parade of Nations at the start of every Olympic Games. A gold medalist? In a country that wants to celebrate this special triumph? This athlete can also have his own Olympus.
For the first time in decades, the glimmer of hope that the country feels at the Olympic Games shines somewhat brighter.
Gymnast Carlos Yulo qualified for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
And he didn't just hit a normal ticket to Japan. He flies there in the first class, the title world champion is linked to his name. More importantly, the rivals he defeated in the ground exercise of the World Cup in Germany this year will be the same that he will face at the Olympics.
"It lies far above [everyone else]", said the Philippine gymnastics president Cynthia Carrion – at least in the region. To win the Philippines' first Olympic gold medal, Yulo must prevail against the rest of the world.
“I am very satisfied with my performance. But my coach always told me that there was still a lot of work to be done, ”said Yulo after the World Cup.
But he won't shoulder hope alone.
erLightweight lifter Hidilyn Diaz, silver medalist at the Rio de Janerio Games, hopes to take a step on the podium without the doping controversy that has affected traditional rival programs.
A number of Thai weightlifters were tested for doping by the International Weightlifting Federation (IMF) at the SEA games alone and prompted the national association to impose a self-imposed ban.
"I am glad that they were not there because we clean athletes have the opportunity to represent our countries well," said Diaz. "This is an opportunity for [clean athletes] to show that it is possible to compete at a high level without the use of dope or steroids."
The ban affected, among others, Thailand's Sopita Tanasan, which Diaz had long been a thorn in the side of major events.
Diaz and Yulo will fight for Olympic glory with a wave of verve and confidence from their gold medal campaigns at the recently completed 2019 SEA Games.
After seven wins at the SEA Games, a few gold appearances and five silver plums, Yulo, the 19-year-old child prodigy, returned to Tokyo to continue his training for the Olympic Games.
Diaz has yet to consolidate her place in the four-year games, but that's probably a foregone conclusion.
At the time of writing, the Philippine Air Force soldier was fourth in the IMF ranking for the -55 kilogram division.
Diaz, who won her first gold medal at the SEA Games in December, must remain in the top eight in the world rankings until May 2020 to qualify for the Olympic Games.
"This year has been so good for me and I have made great strides in training and technique," said Diaz. "We are on the right track for Tokyo 2020." Diaz, who took part in the World Championships in Pattaya in September last year, has had strong results in her last two Olympic qualifiers – the Rome World Championships in January and the IMF Asian Championships in Kazakhstan.
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