Carlo Paalam remained unwavering in the mixed zone on Saturday afternoon, answering all the tough questions from reporters curious about what transpired in his loss to Brit Galal Yafai in the flyweight finals of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
However, as the interview progressed and the media’s probing questions gave way to words of encouragement from those inspired by Paalam’s humility, honesty, and sincerity, Paalam paused for a moment and cast an adoring gaze at the Olympic silver medal he wore around his neck.
The irony of a former ‘mangangalakal’ from Carmen, Cagayan de Oro obtaining a silver medal constructed of recycled materials, like other medals given out in these most peculiar of Olympic Games, made him cry.
“Itong medal na ito, may simbolo din po ito sa buhay ko. Kasi isa akong mangangalakal, itong medalya ay gawa sa mga sirang gadget po. Sa basura s’ya galing, kaya nai-connect ko po s’ya sa buhay ko”,Paalam said in an interview.
“‘Yun po ang pinanghugutan ko para makuha ko ito.”He added.
Paalam, the least-heralded member of the four-man Philippine team that blitzed through a tough draw in the 48-52kg weight class to reach the finals, knocking off reigning Olympic and world champion Shakhobidin Zoirov along the way, earned a silver medal, according to most observers here.
However, Paalam’s bid for gold was derailed in the first round when a dazzling four-punch combination from Yafai left him tumbling to the canvas, right next to the hard-hitting Briton’s corner.
“Ginawa ko rin kung ano ‘yung sinasabi ng mga coaches ko. Pero pine-pressure niya talaga ako. Gusto n’ya talaga na kino-corner ako para hindi ko magawa ‘yung laro ko. Kahit anong galaw ko, kina-cut n’ya ako lagi,”Paalam admitted.
“Ibinigay ko na lang talaga kung ano yung makakaya ko. Kita n’yo naman po na lumalaban talaga ako. Kasi alam ko na ang pusong Pinoy, palaban po,”he added.
Paalam was unbowed in the face of defeat, promising to keep working toward the Olympic gold medal he lacked at this conclave in Paris three years from now. Paalam realizes that this silver medal has changed the life of this erstwhile mangangalakal. Forever. The fact that it was built from abandoned electronic equipment is the cherry on top. He’s not going to take it any other way.
“Nagpapasalamat po talaga ako sa Panginoon kasi nabago po ang buhay ko dahil dito sa medalya na ‘to. Maraming, maraming salamat!”