Sports

Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Paalam, ex-martial arts champion Bacyadan get  Olympic berths

BANGKOK/MANILA  – Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Carlo Paalam booked a return trip to the Olympics after a unanimous decision win over India’s Sachin Siwach in the men’s 57 kg semifinals at the 2nd World Boxing Olympic Qualification held at Indoor Stadium Huamark in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday night, June 1.

It was an early birthday gift for Paalam, who will turn 26 on July 16 or 10 days before the official opening of the Paris Games.

“Fought hard for my spot for the Paris Olympics 2024,” Paalam, silver medalist in Tokyo 2020, posted on Facebook. “Una sa Poong Maykapal dumaan man ako sa maraming pagsubok pero mas naging buo ako at panatag sa pag pagkamit ng ticket sa (First, the Lord. I experienced several challenges but I was strong and confident I would make it to the) Paris Olympics 2024.”

He also thanked the Philippine Sports Commission, Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines and secretary general Marcus Manalo, his team (coaches, dietitian, physical therapist), and his family “sa walang sawang supporta, pagdasal at tiwala (for your endless support, prayers and trust).”

Paalam will join 13 other Filipinos in Paris, including fellow boxers and Tokyo batchmates Eumir Felix Marcial and Nesthy Petecio, along with first-timer Aira Villegas; gymnasts Carlos Yulo, Aleah Finnegan, LeVi Jung-Ruivivar and Emma Malabuyo; world No. 2 pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena; weightlifters Vanessa Sarno, Erleen Ann Ando and John Febuar Ceniza; rower Joanie Delgaco; and fencer Sam Catantan.

  Former martial arts champion Hergi Bacyadan is the 15th Filipino Olympian and fifth boxer going to the Paris Games after hurdling her quarterfinal bout in the 2nd World Boxing Olympic Qualification held in Bangkok, Thailand on June 1.

Bacyadan beat Venezuela’s Maryelis Yriza in the women’s 75 kg  via unanimous decision.

The qualification of the Kalinga native came less than 24 hours after Carlo Paalam booked his return trip to the quadrennial summer Games in the same Bangkok tournament.

Bacyadan, 28, is a world vovinam champion, winning the women’s combat 66 kg division of the Vietnamese martial arts in Ho Chi Minh City in November 2023.

She first made the Philippine wushu team in 2016, shifted to boxing, returned to martial arts, and grabbed the opportunity to box again in order to achieve her Olympic dream.

 Bacyadan advanced after a 3-2 split decision win over Hungary’s Veronika Nakota, also on Saturday.

The 28-year-old native of Kalinga province won the women’s combat 66 kg of the 7th World Vovinam Championships held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in November last year.

Babalik sa Olympics na mag kakasama ulit!!!!! Sobrang saya ko at pasok tayong tatlo ulit (Returning to the Olympics together!!! I’m so happy that we all made it)!!!” Petecio wrote on Facebook. “Paris!!!! Here we go!!!! We are coming.”

“Paris Olympics let’s go! I am very proud of you Loy. Congratulations!!!” Marcial wrote.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino, who watched Paalam’s win in Bangkok, told Paalam on Facebook that “your family and the whole nation is proud of you!” 

There are 13 Olympic boxing weight categories — six for women and seven for men — in the Paris competition.

There were 28 men and 21 women who made it during the first qualifier in Italy in March. A further 23 female and 28 male Olympic spots are available in Bangkok. 

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