(UPDATED) The overarching narrative for the Philippines in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia is about the success of its female national athletes, who accounted for all 4 of the gold medals in the multi-sports continental competition.
The sweep engineered by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, golfer Yuka Sosa and teammates Lois Kaye Go and Bianca Pagdanganan is unprecedented.
“I feel like in my time right now, women are empowering the world,” Go said. “It just means the world to us that we are able to represent not only the Philippines, but also women in general — in sports, in the world, and just in life.”
“It just shows how much women can do, and how they deserve everyone’s respect,” she added.
While the feat drew attention to female empowerment in local sports, history shows Filipinas have long shown their ability to dominate, even carry, the national delegation in the biggest multi-sports competition, excluding the Olympics.
Based on information collected in the book “The Olympic Movement in the Philippines,” authored by Celso Dayrit, the former president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, bowler Bong Coo owns the record for the most number of gold medals by a Philippine athlete in the Asian Games — man or woman.
Coo won 5 gold medals in total — 3 (all-events, masters and team-of-5) in the 1978 Games in Bangkok, then added 2 more (all-events and team-of-5) in the 1986 Games in Seoul.
The Philippines won a combined 8 gold medals (4 each) in 1978 and 1986, meaning Coo singlehandedly accounted for more than half of those.
(Gerardo Rosario, who won the men’s 200 meters freestyle, prevented a personal golden sweep by Coo in 1978. Golfer Ramon Brobio spoiled an all-Filipina gold finish in 1986; besides Brobio and Coo, Lydia de Vegas finished atop the podium in the women’s 100 meters that year.)
Coo, currently the secretary-general of the Philippine Bowling Federation, the sport’s national governing body, could’ve theoretically won more had bowling not been cut from the 1982 Games in New Delhi.
That isn’t the only record Coo holds.
She and Pinay sprint wonder woman Mona Solaiman are the only national athletes to grab as many as 3 gold medals in a single edition of the Games.
Solaiman, the original queen of Asian track, achieved the hat-trick in the 1962 Games in Jakarta, where she topped the 100 meters, the 200 meters and the 4 x 100 meters.
The other multiple gold winners in a single Games are Saso in golf this month, swimmers Haydée Coloso-Espino (Manila in 1954) and Jacinto Cayco (New Delhi in 1951), and men’s tennis player Raymundo Deyro (Tokyo in 1958); they won a pair each.
Coloso-Espino is another Filipina with a strong Asian Games résumé.
The accomplished swimmer won 10 medals, giving her the distinction of having the most podium finishes by a Philippine athlete at the Games, regardless of gender.
Coloso-Espino won 3 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze medals overall after participating in the 1954, 1958 and 1962 Games.
After Coo’s double-gold showing in 1986, there was a dearth in gold-winning Filipina athletes.
Between 1986 and and 2018, Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski’s win in Busan, South Korea in 2002 was the only first-place finish by a Pinay at the Games. She took home the gold in individual show-jumping in the equestrian competition.
For Cojuangco-Jaworski, currently the Philippine representative to the International Olympic Committee, what Diaz and her fellow female athletes accomplished in Jakarta and Palembang the past 2 weeks or so is special.
“I don't think there are really enough words to express the pride, as a woman, that all our gold medals have come from women athletes,” Cojuangco-Jaworski said.
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