Philippines, 12 Dec 2023
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Yearender: Pinay athletes showcased what women empowerment is all about in 2018 Asiad

Women empowerment in Philippine sports had never been strongly felt than in the 2K18 XVIII Asian Games held in the cities of Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia where the Filipina athletes swept all the four gold medals the 114-athlete strong national contingent brought home.

Iron Lady Hidilyn Diaz in weightlifting, parbuster Yuka Saso and her teammates and skateboard ace Margielyn Didal wrote history in the Philippines? 67 years of participation in the quadrennial conclave among the best and finest athletes in the region by romping off with all of the country?s gold medal harvest.

All the quadruple golden mints were the country?s firsts in their disciplines, making their harvests sweeter and more significant.

That, of course, had never happened before. In 1986 in Seoul, sprinter Lydia de Vega and pintoppler Bong Coo and her teammates in the Women?s Team of 5 stashed away with three golden mint softwares.

That duplicated the three=gold efforts of pool sharks Haydee Coloso and Jocelyn von Giese in the second edition of the Games in 1954 in Manila when the Philippines first dispatched its women athletes;

Coloso emerged the winningest gold medalist with two one in the 100-meter freestyle and another in the 100 butterfly. Statuesque von Giese took another in the 100-meter backstroke.

A dozen female swimmers and 15 runners, jumpers and throwers were inserted in the 1954 delegation but only Coloso and von Giese contributed to the nation?s harvest of 14 gold medals that led he hosts to finish second overall behind Japan, which completed a back-to-back general championship win.

Coloso, who four years later was already carrying the surname Espino, and Ms. von Giese returned to the pool in Tokyo four years later and joined by the latter?s sister Sandra von Giese and Victoria Cagayat, top the 4x100 medley relay.

Sprinter Inocencia Solis and broad jumper Visitacion Badana joined the swimmers in the winners circle with the former crowning herself As? fastest woman by beating all-comers in the 100-mefer dash.

The Philippines retained the second overall also behind Japan with a 9-19-15 gold-silver-bronze production. Two of that silver harvest came courtesy tennister Desideria Ampon, younger sister of the great Felicisimo, in the singles event besides teaming up with Patricia Yngayo to captjure, too, the doubles event.

It was another trickster Mona Sulaiman?s turn to shine in 1962 in Jakarta where she scored a triple as she swept the 100 meters and 200 meters besides helping the quartet composed of Solis, Aida Molinos and F.S Solis triumph in the 4x100 relay.

Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, the last Filipina to win a gold in the Asian Games when she topped the individual show jumping event in equestrian in 2002 Asiad in Busan, South Korea and now the International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines, could not have been more proud with this development coming at a time when womanhood is under attack from even the highest government officials of the land themselves.

Cojuangco-Jaworski, daughter of former long-time Philippine Olympic committee president Jose ?Peping? Cojuangco and wife of ex-PBA star Robert ?Dodot? Jaworski Jr., in a interviews with this writer, put premium on women?s significant role in citizen building.

"There are a lot of values that could be learned through sports, may it be friendship, excellence, fair play, discipline, or hard work. These are all traits that are necessary for us anyway whether we're playing, working, or studying,? Mikee stressed.

?All of that can be learned through sports," she explained. "If we in sports can be a good example to society, then I think we would have done our part already in nation-building. ?I don't think there are really enough words to express the pride, as a woman, that all our gold medals came from our female athletes.?

?We?ve been saying gender equality, it?s also hard din naman. It?s kinda reverse discrimination,? she noted. ?But at the same time, there has been really an improvement in the participation ratio of men versus women, and I'm so grateful that our women athletes have shown that this is really the right way to go.?

The beauteous, statuesque daughter in-law of basketball?s living legend Robert Jaworski compared Diaz and company?s triumphs with her own golden moment in 2002 coming on the final day of the Asiad, and was at the expense of ?some of the world?s finest riders.?

?Sometimes, when it's unexpected, that's when it happens,? said Cojuangco-Jaworski, ?And I think I know that more than anybody else because it happened to me. It's really a matter of being the best that we can be when it matters most.?

Going back to gender equality, Cojuangco-Jaworski said, "I come from a sport where there is no such thing as a man or woman. We have always competed against each other. I have learned and realized that when we talk about gender equality, it does not mean that what women and men do must be the same."

"We're very unique. There are things that women can do that men can't and vice versa. Instead of trying to pit men and women against each other, we need to improve on all of our strengths, then everyone will be better for it."

Cojuangco-Jaworski added that it's important for young girls to have strong women to look up to and the gold medalists can help inspire the younger generation to break their own barriers."

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.

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