Philippine Olympic Committee celebrates Olympic centenary. GETTY IMAGES

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) made its Olympic debut at Paris 1924 and aspires to have at least 19 athletes representing the country at the upcoming edition, in line with the number of athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Games. Currently, four Filipino athletes have secured spots. The dream is to improve on the four medals won at Tokyo 2020.

The POC is hoping to at least match its performance at Tokyo 2020. The country managed to send 19 athletes to the Games. Olympic officials are confident of breaking that record.

"It will be very good if we have 19 Olympians again, but if we don't, we will focus on the podium. Hopefully we will win more medals in Paris," said POC President Bambol Tolentino in an official statement.

The dream is to surpass the four medals the country achieved at the last Olympics. Hidilyn Diaz won gold in weightlifting. Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio took silver in boxing and Eumir Marcial won bronze, also in boxing.

The POC and its athletes are preparing for this challenge and four of them have already qualified for Paris 2024: EJ Obiena (pole vault), Eumir Marcial (boxer) and Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan (gymnasts). 

Officials are confident that the Philippines will be able to secure as many spots as it did at the last edition, in addition to the three universal slots it was granted in athletics and swimming. It will be a tough challenge. But the progress of some sports in the country makes it not impossible. 

Obienna has already qualified for Paris 2024 Olympics. GETTY IMAGES
Obienna has already qualified for Paris 2024 Olympics. GETTY IMAGES

Among the athletes making a strong case for inclusion in the big event are Ernest John Obiena and the Philippine women's football team. Obiena is one of the favourites after winning gold medals at the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games and silver medal at the World Championships.

The women's football team has also earned a place on the world stage following its participation in the World Cup. They reached a historic milestone by scoring the team's first goal. 

"We are not the only country preparing for Paris. All the others are also working hard for the Olympics. We are in need of all kinds of support: moral, financial and otherwise. 

By the way, the Philippines will be celebrating a century of Olympic history at Paris 2024. They first competed in the 1924 Games, which were also held in the French capital.

Since then, they have taken part in 22 editions, winning a total of 14 medals: one gold, five silver and eight bronze. Their first appearance at the Winter Games was in Sapporo in 1972. 

Meanwhile, the Philippine Olympic Committee is awaiting a response from the IOC to its formal invitation to Manny Pacquiao to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics. The 45-year-old legend has set his sights on Olympic gold. If the IOC finally decides to allow him to compete, the Philippines will have one more to fight for.