The Philippines’ bid to end its twenty-year Olympic medal drought is off to a bad start as three of the country’s 13 athletes participating in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil got eliminated in their respective competitions in the games’ opening day.
1) The first one to bow out was table tennis player Ian Lariba, who lost to Congo’s Han Xing in straight sets, 11-7, 13-11, 11-9, 11-7. Lariba, to her credit, managed to keep the score close in all sets but somehow couldn’t get the finishing kick. Xing is a daughter of Chinese immigrants from Congo’s capital Brazaville.
Lariba, a four-time UAAP MVP, was the clear underdog in the match, ranked 200th out of 201. This was the first time the Philippines the Philippines qualified for the sport in the Olympics.
2) Shortly after Sunday midnight (Manila time), Filipino swimmer Jessie Khing Lacuna finished 6th in Heat 7 of Men’s 400m freestyle with a time of 4:01:70. His time record was way behind the time necessary to advance to the medal round. He finished 46th overall.
A swimmer from the Ateneo de Manila University, Lacuna also took part in the 2012 London Olympics. In an interview with Ateneo’s official school paper The Guidon, he said it isn’t all about winning. “I’ll just swim. I’ll just smile whatever happens because it’s the journey going there that matters.”
3) But perhaps the toughest loss was the one experienced by boxer Charly Suarez during his round-of-32 match against Joe Cordina of Great Britain for the 60 kg. division. The three judges gave the Briton a 2 to 1 victory over the Filipino at the end of their three-round match. According to Spin.PH, Cordina successfully utilized his advantage in height and arm reach for better offense and in repelling attacks from Suarez.
The other Filipino boxer in this year’s Olympics, Rogen Ladon, will have his round-of-16 light flyweight match Monday night (Manila time). That is the same category where Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco won the silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – the last time the Philippines won anything at the Summer Games.