Add a gold medal in the Olympics to Alex Eala’s growing list of goals in her young and very promising tennis career.
The 17-year-old Filipina tennis sensation formally declared her willingness to shoot for a gold medal in the Summer Games, saying that nothing still beats the feeling of leading the country to Olympic glory.
Eala made history when she became the first Filipino to win a juniors singles crown in the prestigious US Open in New York last month.
Since then, she carefully plotted her goals that include becoming world No. 1 and emerging victorious in a handful of women’s singles Grand Slam events.
Now, she’s craving for a feat every Filipino athlete has been dreaming of — an Olympic gold.
And with weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz breaking barriers by giving the country its first gold medal in 97 years of Olympic participation, Eala believes that anything is possible.
“There’s not a single person in the whole country that didn’t see that,” she told Olympics.com in an article that was published late Wednesday (Manila time).
“It was a great moment because she’s also a woman, you know.”
“That sets it apart because, of course, we have Manny Pacquiao, we have EJ Obiena, Carlos Yulo, but we also have good women athletes in the Philippines who deserve a lot of attention as well.”
She added that Diaz’s triumph truly fired her up, making her believe that she is also capable of winning an Olympic gold medal aside from becoming world No. 1 and dominating the Grand Slam events.
“To be No. 1, win some Grand Slams, but of course, also to win the Olympics is a huge thing. After Hidilyn’s win, you know, it’s very inspiring to so many athletes and to so many Filipinos,” she said when asked about her goals.
“The Olympics is a very unique experience. It’s different from all the other tennis tournaments that you get. I don’t know how to explain it, I think that it’s more for your country than for yourself.”
“So, it’s unique.”
Winning an Olympic gold medal in tennis is truly a special achievement.
Serena Williams has won four Olympic gold medals for the United States while Rafael Nadal has two for Spain and Roger Federer has one for Switzerland.
But current world No. 1 players like Iga Swiatek of Poland and Carlos Alcaraz of Spain have yet to win an Olympic gold, making it their ultimate goal in their respective tennis careers.
Eala, whose uncle is now the chairperson of the Philippine Sports Commission, knows the process will not be easy.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on improving my ranking and, you know, hopefully I’m trying to get into the qualies (qualifying rounds) of the women’s Grand Slams. I have to work a lot to make that happen but obviously, that’s what I’m here to do,” said Eala, a three-time bronze medalist in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi.
“I like to take it step by step.”