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Sunday, September 9, 2012

12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin proud to be Pinay

It's not easy to guess that 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin, with her blonde hair and fair skin, has Filipino roots.

One of the world's most decorated female Olympian swimmers, Coughlin has won 12 Olympic medals including three golds, four silvers, and five bronzes, her official website said.

In a report of Oscar Oida for GMA Network's “News to Go” program on September 7,  Coughlin said, “My mom is half Filipino, my grandma is from Cavite and they raised me with a lot of Filipino culture.”
“Where I went to my first nine years in school, kindergarten through eighth grade was primarily a Filipino school. I was very much exposed to the Filipino culture,” Coughlin said.

The 30-year-old Coughlin is a sports powerhouse, having won many swimming competitions. Her achievements and awards include:
2004 Athens Olympics

  • 100m Backstroke - Gold
  • 4x200m Freestyle Relay – Gold
  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay - Silver
  • 4x100m Medley Relay – Silver
  • 100m Freestyle – Bronze

2008 Beijing Olympics
  • 100m Backstroke – Gold
  • Medley Relay - Silver
  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Silver
  • 100m Freestyle - Bronze
  • 200m Individual Medley - Bronze
  • 4x200m Freestyle Relay – Bronze

2012 London Olympics
  • 4x100-meter freestyle relay – Bronze
Coughlin was the most-decorated female Olympian during the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
She also made Olympic history when she won back-to-back gold medals for the 100m backstroke category in 2004 and 2008.

All in all, Coughlin is tied with Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for the most number of Olympic medals achieved by an American female in the swimming category.

Giving back

Coughlin said she gets excited whenever she meets Filipino athletes in the Olympics.
In the recently concluded London Olympics where she won a bronze medal in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, she said the Philippine team warmly greeted her whenever they meet.

Coughlin has been giving back to the Filipino community in the United States.
“I have done a lot of events in the Filipino community especially in Vallejo, California which is where I was born and raised,” she said.
Out of her love for the Filipino culture, Coughlin has made an effort to learn Tagalog.
“I even started studying Tagalog with Rosetta Stone but my accent is terrible so I’m not going to tell you anything because I speak really slowly,” she said.
Her favorite Filipino foods are lumpia and halo-halo.
 “My grandma’s lumpia is by far the best. I could tell my grandma’s lumpia from anyone of her sisters even if she tells me “no, no, no I didn’t make that one,” I know when she made it and when she did not,” she recounted.
“And then halo-halo. I love halo-halo especially on a warm summer day,” she said.

In Oida's report, Coughlin also expressed her gratitude to her Filipino supporters.

“To all my Filipino fans out there, thank you so much, salamat, I appreciate everything that you guys do for me, I appreciate all the tweets and all the messages and all the support,” she said.
“You have no idea how much that means to me and how it puts a smile on my face,” she added.- VVP, GMA News

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