FILIPINO medal winners at the recent Tokyo Olympic Games came together for a Thanksgiving Mass on Wednesday in Tagaytay City in Cavite.
Gold medal-winning weightlifter Hidilyn F. Diaz joined silver boxing medalists Nesthy A. Petecio and Carlo Paalam and bronze medalist Eumir Felix D. Marcial in the mass held at the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, which was arranged by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
The thanksgiving was for the successful campaign of Team Philippines in the Olympics where it produced its best performance in nearly a century of participation.
The four-medal haul, including a first-ever gold medal, eclipsed the three medals (all bronze) won in 1932 in Los Angeles as the best showing of the country in the Summer Games.
“We wish to thank the Almighty for our success in the Tokyo Olympics. First and foremost, we look at the medals as gifts from God,” POC President Abraham N. Tolentino said in a statement.
Ms. Diaz, who was among first to come back from Tokyo after winning gold on July 26, went to Tagaytay City to join Ms. Petecio and Messrs. Paalam and Marcial after they completed their mandatory 10-day quarantine.
Cavite Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista officiated the 11 a.m. Holy Mass.
Only the medalists and their coaches and a handful of POC and national sports association officials joined the ceremony because of travel restrictions under the ongoing enhanced community quarantine.
After the mass, the medalists were also given the rewards they were promised by Mr. Tolentino, including titles to houses and lots in Tagaytay City.
“We’re thankful for these blessings being given to us. As an athlete our goal is to bring pride to the country by winning in competitions and this is just added bonus for us and we thank God and the people who made this possible,” Ms. Diaz told reporters waiting outside the church.
Following their successful Olympic campaigns, the medalists are soon to start preparing and training for their next competitions.
Ms. Diaz, who also won a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, will go to Malaysia next month to prepare for the World Championships set for November in Lima, Peru.
Mr. Marcial, for his part, is expected to be due in the United States in September to resume his professional boxing career, his promotion, MP Promotions, said.
Ms. Petecio and Mr. Paalam, meanwhile, are soon to train for the rescheduled Southeast Asian Games next year. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo