The year 2017 saw the rise of many Filipino female athletes in different sporting events. They represented the country and bagged medals in international competitions. Whether they set new records, qualified for major tournaments, or improved world rankings, their accomplishments serve as inspiration to current and future generations of national players.
In no particular order, here are some of the top women athletes who brought honor to the country this year:
Krizziah Lyn Tabora (bowling)
Krizziah Lyn Tabora claimed the gold medal at the 53rd QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup in Hermosillo, Mexico. She ended the country’s 14-year title drought after besting one of the world’s top players, Malaysia’s Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman, in the stepladder finals.
Tabora helped the Philippines rekindle its glory years in bowling as she became the fifth Filipino World Cup champion after Paeng Nepomuceno (1976, 1980, 1992, 1996), Lita dela Rosa (1978), Bong Coo (1979), and CJ Suarez (2003).
The 26-year-old bowler was also part of the women’s team that earned silver at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) and bronze at the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
Kiyomi Watanabe (judo)
Filipino-Japanese Kiyomi Watanabe ruled the 63-kilogram category of the women’s judo competition at the 29th Southeast Asian Games after winning via ippon in all of her matches. She claimed her third straight gold medal in the biennial meet as she also dominated in the 2013 and 2015 editions.
The 21-year-old judoka also gave the Philippines its first medal in the IJF World Judo Tour after finishing with the bronze at the 2017 Paris Grand Slam. She garnered more international awards throughout the year – first place in Taipei Asian Open, second place in Oberwart European Open, and third place in Hongkong Asian Open.
As of December 2017, Watanabe is ranked 21st in the world in the 63-kilogram division of women’s judo.
Kaitlin de Guzman (gymnastics)
Kaitlin De Guzman made waves in her Southeast Asian Games debut in Kuala Lumpur. She took home the gold medal in uneven bars, 22 years after her mother, Tammy Dela Cruz, achieved the same feat during the 1995 Chiang Mai SEA Games.
The 17-year-old De Guzman also won silver in floor exercise and bronze in balance beam. The young, promising gymnast hopes to continue her excellent showing when she competes in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta next year.
Mary Joy Tabal (marathon)
Mary Joy Tabal reigned supreme in the marathon competition of the 29th Southeast Asian Games. The Rio Olympian delivered the Philippines’ first gold medal in the regional meet after clocking in 2:48:24, seven minutes ahead of the next finisher.
Tabal also made history when she emerged as the Milo Marathon Queen for the fifth straight year. It was an emotional victory for the 28-year-old runner as she dominated the race held in her hometown Cebu, just a day after the passing of her father, Ronaldo Tabal Sr.
PH Blu Girls (softball)
The Blu Girls bagged the silver medal at the 11th Asian Women’s Softball Championship in Taichung, Taiwan. Ranked 17th in the world, the Philippines shocked powerhouse teams China (6th) and Chinese Taipei (9th) in the semifinals before bowing down to Japan (1st) in the final round.
This second place finish qualified the national team for the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia and the Women’s Softball World Championship in Chibu, Japan, both happening in August 2018.
The Blu Girls’ ultimate goal is to compete in the Olympics and their performance in the two international tournaments next year will determine their chances for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
PH Malditas (football)
The Philippine women’s football team booked a ticket to the Women’s Asian Cup for the first time in history. They earned a slot to the biennial competition after finishing second in their group in the qualifiers held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan last April.
The Malditas recently begun their three-month training camp in the United States as part of their preparations for the Asian Cup slated in April 2018. The top five finishers of the tournament will secure berths for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Janelle Frayna (chess)
Janelle Frayna officially became the Philippines’ first woman grandmaster last March, though she earned the points necessary to achieve the title at the 42nd Chess Olympiad held in September 2016.
After graduating as cum laude and class valedictorian from the Far Eastern University this year, the 21-year-old participated in six European competitions to increase her rating and boost her world ranking.
Frayna won the best female title in the Brugse Meesters International Chess Tournament in Belgium, where she finished tied for eighth place after scoring 6.5 points on five wins, three draws, and a loss.
Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting)
Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz captured the silver and bronze medals at the IWF Weightlifting World Championships in Anaheim, California. She competed in the 56-kilogram division and finished second in clean and jerk (113 kg) and third in total lift (199 kg).
Earlier in the year, the Zamboanga native notched another silver at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. In addition to her weightlifting medals, Diaz was also recognized as one of the awardees of The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines in 2017.
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