Hidilyn Diaz, Filipinas lead Top 7 Philippine sports moments of 2022
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine sports saw another successful year in 2022 as Filipino athletes continued to shine on the international stage and reach greater heights with their winning moments and record-breaking feats.
Following a banner year in 2021, where Hidilyn Diaz delivered the country’s first gold medal in the Olympics, Filipino athletes kept thriving internationally and continued to bring pride and glory to the country.
Inquirer Sports listed the Top 7 Filipinos, who delivered the best Philippine sports moments of 2022.
7. Rousing return for Carlo Paalam
It may have been a tough year for Philippine boxing with Nonito Donaire Jr, Mark Magsayo, Jerwin Ancajas, and John Riel Casimero losing their titles and Manny Pacquiao hanging up his gloves during his presidential bid.
But Carlo Paalam continued his rise to stardom as he brought home a gold in the bantamweight division of the ASBC Asian Elite Men & Women Boxing Championships.
The 24-year-old Filipino boxer stunned top seed Makhmud Sabyrkhan of Kazakhstan in the final by split decision, 4-1, to rule the division.
Paalam showed no signs of slowing down even coming off a historic silver medal run in the men’s flyweight boxing event of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The young Olympian missed the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam but he made a rousing return on the Asian stage.
The success of the Takalag, Bukidnon native showed the future of Philippine boxing is bright despite being one of the few silver linings of the sport in 2022.
6. Women warriors: Junna Tsukii, Meggie Ochoa, Kimberly Anne Custodio
It has been quite a year for Junna Tsukii, Meggie Ochoa, and other Filipino women’s martial artists.
After not making it to the Olympics last year and settling for silver in the Asian Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Tsukii vowed to come back stronger this 2022.
The Filipino-Japanese Karateka delivered her promise as she won the gold medal in the women’s under-50kg Kumite at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama in July.
Tsukii also bagged a bronze medal in team Kumite in the Hanoi SEA Games last May.
Ochoa also rose to the occasion for the Philippine jiu-jitsu team as she ruled the women’s adult -48 kilogram category in the 2022 JJIF World Championship in United Arab Emirates last November.
Her teammate, Kimberly Anne Custodio also won gold in the women’s -45kg category.
Ochoa also captured a gold medal in the SEA Games along with Annie Ramirez, who ruled her weight class and brought home another gold last May.
5. No world title, no problem for Caloy Yulo
Carlos Yulo was dethroned in the world championship but he still had his winning moments in 2022.
Yulo was denied in his world title-retention bid after settling for silver in vault and a bronze in parallel bars in the 51st FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships last November in Liverpool, Great Britain.
The 22-year-old gymnast dominated the Asian stage after winning three golds in the 9th Senior Artistic Gymnastics Asian Championships in Doha, Qatar last June.
Yulo, who is eyeing another run in the Olympics in Paris, also ruled the floor exercise of the 55th All Japan Senior Championships last August.
The 4-foot-11 prodigy had another masterful SEA Games stint after bringing home five gold and two silver medals to surpass his previous two-gold and five-silver finish in the biennial meet three years ago in Manila.
4. Historic year for Alex Eala
The 17-year-old Alex Eala continued to reach greater heights and show maturity beyond years after a busy 2022.
Taking her act in the professional circuit tournaments took the young netter’s game to the next level as she became the first Filipino to win a singles Grand Slam, ruling the US Open juniors title last September.
Her US Open title run powered Eala to her career-best world ranking at No. 214 in the second pro circuit championship in the first leg of the W25 Chiang Rai last April.
Although her third International Tennis Federation (ITF) title has been elusive in several tourneys she participated it definitely paid off as she continues to scratch the surface of her potential.
The Rafael Nadal Academy scholar, the daughter of Rizza Maniego, a former national swimming team member, also made a convincing SEA Games debut with three bronze medals from the singles, mixed doubles, and team events in Hanoi, Vietnam last May.
Eala has no plans of slowing down as she makes her professional Grand Slam debut in the Australian Open 2023.
3. EJ Obiena
It had been a rollercoaster year for EJ Obiena but it didn’t stop him from making a leap of faith in 2022.
Despite an ugly rift with the Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association that has since been resolved, Obiena still had a fruitful year, winning one gold medal after another.
The 27-year-old pole vaulter earned a total of 17 medals with 12 gold including his rare win over the World No.1 Mondo Duplantis in the Diamond League in Brussels, two silver, and three bronze medals.
But Obiena’s biggest achievement was his bronze medal in the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States last July.
The 6-foot-2 athlete reset the Asian record at 5.94 meters and became the first pole vaulter from the continent to reach the podium of the world championships.
Obiena also soared to his best World ranking at No.3.
He also defended his SEA Games crown with a record-setting leap in Hanoi, Vietnam last May.
2. Year of the Filipinas
2022 has been the year of the Filipinas.
The Philippine women’s football team kicked off its historic year, booking the country’s first-ever Fifa World Cup appearance in dramatic fashion.
The Filipinas secured a ticket to the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand after reaching the semifinals of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup with a dramatic 4-3 win on penalties over Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals last January in Pune, India.
The Alen Stajcic-coached team remained hungry after qualifying as it landed on its first SEA Games podium after 37 years, clinching the bronze medal with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Myanmar last May in Vietnam.
The Filipinas also became the queens of the region after ruling the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship with a 3-0 victory over Thailand in the finals in front of 8,000 fans at Rizal Memorial Stadium last July.
From securing a spot in the Fifa World Cup, winning a historic SEA Games bronze, to ruling a major tournament, the women’s national football team didn’t stop preparing for the 2023 World Cup with several training camps and friendlies overseas.
The Filipinas will make their historic Fifa World Cup debut in Group A with New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland starting in July 2023.
1. Hidilyn Diaz: From Olympic gold medalist to world champion
The best Filipino athlete in 2022 was Hidilyn Diaz as she continued to add gold medals to her collection a year after she won a historic Olympic gold in Tokyo.
Diaz started the year by defending her throne in the SEA Games last May.
The 31-year-old weightlifter made a total lift of 206kgs–92kgs in snatch and 114kgs in clean and jerk–to get her second straight SEA Games gold after winning the same event in the 2019 edition in Manila.
Diaz finally added World Weightlifting Championship crowns to her trophy room after bagging three golds in Bogota, Colombia.
WORLD CHAMPION 👑Hidilyn Diaz rules the SNATCH (93kg), CLEAN & JERK (114kg) and TOTAL (207kg) in the women’s 55kg division, sweeping all three golds at the Weightlifting World Championships!📹: International Weightlifting Federation
Posted by Inquirer Sports on Wednesday, December 7, 2022
She tallied a total lift of 207kg to edge Rosalba Morales of Colombia and Ana Gabriela Lopez of Mexico as she finally earned the missing piece to her gold medal collection.
More than her achievement in sports, Diaz also tied the knot with her coach and long-time partner Julius Naranjo in Baguio last July — exactly a year after her historic Tokyo Olympics gold medal lift.
Last August 7, Diaz took to Instagram, baring they postponed their honeymoon to set prepare for a run at a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics, which will be her ‘last lift’.