Everyone knows that the Olympic Games are the most prestigious sporting event in the world — a quadrennial competition that several athletes work their entire lives to get a chance to compete in. And the Tokyo 2020 Games, even if they have been delayed by a full year, are no exception.
It is not surprising then to see some ambitious Chinoy athletes striving to qualify for the upcoming Summer Games, which are scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8. Competing at the highest level in order to represent the country, here are four Chinoy names who are vying for Olympic bids:
Jamie Lim (Karate)
As if graduating summa cum laude from the University of the Philippines – Diliman with a degree in mathematics was not enough, Jamie Lim proved to be just as much brawn as she is brain when she climbed to the top of the 2019 SEA Games podium to snatch the gold medal just six months after returning to the sport.
In order to prepare for the final Olympic qualifier that was held last June 11 to 13, Lim entered the Inspire Sports Academy — the Calamba-based bubble that served as the training grounds for many of the country’s national athletes — last January with the plan to refine her physical conditioning and techniques in the months leading up to the event.
Despite her efforts, however, Lim was eliminated during the second round of the World Qualifying Tournament in Paris after her loss against Tunisia’s Chehinez Jemi, 2-7, in the women’s +61kg division.
Karate will be making its debut in the Olympics during the Tokyo Games but is not currently listed as a sport in Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. This, unfortunately, does not bode well for future Olympic bids from Lim and other karatekas around the world.
Natalie Uy (Pole Vault)
Ohio native Natalie Uy, whose father hails from Cebu, has proved her ambition to represent the Philippines after successfully making her golden debut during the 2019 SEA Games, stepping to the top of the podium with ease. Her victory, which involved posting a height of 4.25 meters, then shattered the women’s Southeast Asian record for the pole vaulting sport.
Since then, Uy has made it a personal goal to join the Philippine Olympic team. Her efforts, however, were hampered by a wrist injury which required surgery last September. Despite this, Uy was still able to tie the national record of 4.30 meters which she had cleared last year during her most recent competition in May.
In order to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Uy needs to hit the 4.70-meter mark by June 29th. Otherwise, Uy’s goals may shift into preparing for Paris 2024.
Patrick Coo (BMX Racing)
Patrick Coo is yet another Chinoy American who dreams of competing in the Olympics. Born and raised in Bellflower, California, Coo is the son of Benjamin and Romalyn, who respectively hail from Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro. In addition to being the men’s gold medalist of the 2019 Asian Junior BMX Championships, Coo’s achievements include winning his first state championship at eight years old, as well as grabbing four national age-group, twelve state, and three Western division titles in the USA.
After joining the Philippine cycling team last year, Coo, at the age of 19, hoped to become the youngest member of the Philippine Olympic team by competing in the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cup in Bogota, Colombia last May 30. Coo, however, fell short. He ranked 42nd out of 62 riders in his first World Cup as the youngest competitor in the scene.
Despite the setback, Coo remains undeterred, looking forward to challenging the field in this year’s SEA Games in Vietnam and the 2022 Asian Games to be held in China.
EJ Obiena (Pole Vault)
Homegrown Chinoy pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena made national headlines in 2019 when he became the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Now ranked 10th in the world by World Athletics, Obiena is a global rising star in the track and field sport as the pole-vaulting champion of the 2019 Asian Athletics Championship and the gold medalist for both the 2019 Summer Universiade and the 2019 SEA Games, among other notable achievements.
Obiena’s ambition for success kicked into overdrive when he was first introduced to the pole-vaulting GOAT Sergei Bubka, who had visited the Philippines when Obiena was a teenager. Bubka then had personally told Obiena that he would endorse him to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for an athletic scholarship program should Obiena reach the five-meter height requirement within the year. At the time, Obiena’s personal best was 4.95 meters.
Now, as of his most recent victory in Germany last June 11, Obiena shifts what is also the national outdoor record to a strong and high 5.85 meters, beating the Brazilian reigning Olympic champion Thiago Braz da Silva, who had posted 5.62 meters to earn a silver in the competition. This, of course, is the result of years of grueling hard work. Following Bubka’s endorsement, Obiena found himself training among the world’s best at the World Pole Vault Training Center in Formia, Italy under globally renowned coach Vitaly Petrov.
With a mere month remaining until the start of the Tokyo Games, Obiena is back in Italy working on perfecting his techniques and getting better poles. With a lot of skill and a little luck, Obiena is aiming high into the sky, with hopes of climbing the Olympic podium in the near future.