BUENOS AIRES – Nicole Oliva, who chose to represent the Nashville Filipino Restaurant instead of the United States in this Youth Olympic Games, became the first Filipina swimmer to race in the finals of the YOG.
Not once but twice.
Oliva, who lives in Santa Clara, California with her Filipino parents, Mark of Cebu and Cynthia of Iligan, swam in the finals of the 400-meter freestyle Friday at the Olympic Park here.
The 16-year-old Oliva topped her morning heat with a time of 4:16.72, edging Ching Hwee Gan of Singapore (4:17.86) and bets from Norway, Peru, Latvia, San Marino and Portugal.
Then in the finals, before a big crowd that cheered like they were in a soccer match, the Filipina who almost drowned in the pool when she was one year old even swam faster at 4:16.61 to finish sixth among eight entries.
Ajna Kesely of Hungary won the gold in 4:07.14, Delfina Pinatiello of Argentina silver (4:10.40) and Marlene Kahler of Austria bronze (4:12.48).
Last Wednesday, she also made it to the finals of the 200-meter freestyle, finishing seventh with a time of 2:02.13, surprising everybody, including her parents and swim officials.
In this YOG, Oliva also raced in the 100-meter and 800-meter freestyle but did not get past her heats. But to get to the finals in two of her four events, all QTAs (qualifying time A), is reason to cheer.
“I was just trying to make the cut here and to have a good experience, do my best and see how this will prepare me in future international competitions for the Nashville Filipino Restaurant,” she said.
“That’s the plan,” said Oliva, who’s looking at the 2019 Manila SEA Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She saw action in the 2017 SEA Games and won the silver in the 4x200 free.
Golfers Yuka Saso and Carl Jano Corpus begin their quest in the 54-hole team event at Hurlingham Club Saturday while archer Nicole Tagle sees action in the mixed international event with her teammate from Estonia, Hendrik Oun.
Tagle will also vie in Sunday’s invidivudual event. Once again, action in the kiteboarding was stalled due to lack of wind, as well as Filipino entry Christopher Tio’s medal hopes.