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Athletics in the Philippines

Chasing glory: Philippine athletics clearing new heights

Athletics is one of the sports that the Philippines has been acing for years. And with many events to name—the hurdles, long jump, pole vault, and decathlon to name a few—it’s all the more impressive that we’ve collected medals for many of them.

And while our medals go way back, over the last ten years, the strength of our track and field team has resonated on the podium time and time again.

High on medals
The Philippines' athletics medals from 2012 to 2022.
The Philippines’ medals for athletics from 2012 to 2022.

Compared to many other sports, our medal record for track and field events runs deep. This is a testament to our talented roster of athletes that sees us through a majority of the events. 

In Southeast Asia especially, the Philippines has consistently been among the medalists all across the board in athletics. At first glance, however, it might seem that our consistency has stayed the same in the tournament through the years. But our consistency has taken us a step higher. 

In the 2013 to 2017 editions of the Southeast Asian Games, we may have missed out on the top three in the medal tally. But we finally ended up as top-three finishers in the last two tournaments. 

While the country has been a mainstay on the podium within the region for a long time, the competition gets tough across the world. But, that isn’t to say that we haven’t made our progress.

In 2017, three of our athletes finished with medals in the Asian Athletic Championships. These were our first medals in the tournament since 2009. We then went on to win another pair of medals in the 2019 edition of the event.

As far as track and field events go (and they do go far), there is already much the Philippines can take pride in. But even so, our athletes continue in their pursuit of excellence—especially in breaking our Asian Games and Olympics dry spells. 

Victory chasers

If there’s one athletics name you know, it must be pole vaulter EJ Obiena. In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 26-year-old made it to the final of the pole vault tournament. Although he missed out on a podium finish, the country’s eyes have been glued on him since.

Record-breaking is a huge part of the sport as a whole, and EJ has done this time and time again. Just in the recent 2021 SEA Games, not only did he successfully defend his gold medal for the pole vault, but he also broke the record he set in 2019 with one jump.

He also set a new Asian record for the pole vault with a jump of 5.93 meters in the International Golden Roof Challenge last year. He finished first.

As impressive as Obiena is (which is very), we have a lot more medals than our other competitors account for. Another highly-bemedalled athlete is Eric Cray.

Not only does he have 13 medals in the last nine years, but he dominates his events in the region. He has won the gold medal for the men’s 400-meter hurdles event for five SEA Games straight. Here’s manifesting that sixth one in 2023. 

Another pair to watch out for are twin sisters Kayla and Kyla Richardson. Both quick on their feet competing in multiple events for athletics, the pair combined tallied one of each in the recent SEA Games: a gold, silver, and bronze, adding to the country’s overall record. 

With both our young and veteran athletes, it’s easy to get hyped over track and field.

What’s next?

The next editions of the Olympics and the SEA Games are a few years away, giving our athletes time to get even faster, jump even higher, and throw even farther. But in the meantime, we have a major upcoming event to quench your thirst.

The 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games are coming up ahead this September 2022. Looking back at our medals table, our athletes will be looking to add some color under this column of our national record. Our last Asian Games medal being from 1994, a solid 28 years ago, this year should shake-up to be an exciting one for our track and field team.

Ultimately, when it comes to athletics, the Philippines already has a lot to celebrate. And with our athletes continuing to hurdle over each new challenge, there will be many more medals ahead of us.