Most of the pressure for Filipino athletes competing as Olympians in Tokyo since late in July was gone within the first few days, thanks to Hidilyn Diaz taking her three previous Olympic performances to their logical conclusion by winning the country’s first gold medal. The next challenge was to win more than one, and it was answered by boxer Nesthy Petecio, who reached the women’s featherweight finals and settled for silver. Then the next milestone was to equal, or surpass, the three-bronze finish of Los Angeles 1932, achieved in turn by male sluggers Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam. The latter is now guaranteed a silver placing after advancing to finals.
CNN Philippines has it that Carlo Paalam is now in position to win as much glory as Nesthy Petecio or even Hidilyn Diaz, following his victory in the men’s flyweight semifinals against a host country boxer to boot. This Thursday, August 5 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan arena, the 23-year-old fighter from Bukidnon took on Ryomei Tanaka of Japan for the silver medal placement and the right to compete for Gold. Having beaten the defending Olympic flyweight gold medalist from Rio in the quarterfinals, this would be Paalam’s next big obstacle.
While (spiritual) hometown support might have factored into the victory of Japanese women’s featherweight contender Sena Irie against Petecio, such would not be enough to make Tanaka truly formidable against Paalam. With nothing but clean and strong punches to get his point across, Carlo humbled the hometown bet to sweep the favor of the judges. He won by a 5-0 unanimous decision, guaranteeing himself an Olympic silver medal and putting him in the flyweight finals, where his last opponent to go for Gold lies in the British boxer Galal Yafai.
Carlo Paalam’s decisive victory is a soothing balm for Filipino boxing fans after the latest result of his men’s middle weight compatriot Eumir Marcial. Marcial got a further in on his Olympic weight division by starting his campaign in the Round of 16. Then in the quarterfinals he beat Armenian Arman Darchinyan by first-round knockout. So Eumir’s 2-3 split decision loss to his Ukranian foe Oleksandr Khyzhniak was a shock. At least it still leaves Marcial with a podium finish, bringing the Philippines its first boxing bronze ever since Roel Velasco did in Barcelona 1992. All told, with a gold, two silvers and a bronze, Team PH in Tokyo has done one better than the LA delegation back in 1932.
Image courtesy of Olympics website