From scavenger to medal miner: Upcycled Olympic silver a perfect symbol for Paalam

From scavenger to medal miner: Upcycled Olympic silver a perfect symbol for Paalam

MANILA, Philippines — Everything came full circle for Filipino boxer Carlo Paalam when he claimed the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics men's flyweight division at the Kokugikan Arena on Saturday.

This as Paalam was formerly a "scavenger", or in local parlance a "mangangalakal" for the very waste that was used to make the medal he wore on his neck.

“Parang may simbolo siya sa akin etong medal, kasi galing siya sa mga gadget na sira.”

The #Tokyo2020 medals are made from recycled electronic devices, the same type of materials Carlo Paalam #PHI looked for when he was a ‘mangangalakal’

— Paolo del Rosario (@paodelrosario) August 7, 2021

"Nangangalakal ako dati. Parang may simbolo siya sa akin, etong medal. Kasi galing siya sa mga gadget na sira," Paalam told One Sports' Paolo del Rosario after the bout.

All medals at the Tokyo Games were made from recycled e-waste collected well before the event began — a process that could qualify as upcycling.

"Parang may konek siya sa buhay ko. Di ko nga inaakalang makukuha ko ito eh," the pug added, holding on to the mint.

Paalam smashed expectations heading into the Games when he toppled the likes of Olympics veteran Mohamed Flissi and 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist Shakhobidin Zoirov.

He also conquered home bet Ryomei Tanaka in the semifinal to reach the gold medal match.

Though the Filipino fell short against Great Britain's Galal Yafai for the gold, he added to the historic medal haul of the Philippines in Tokyo with the sterling silver.

Despite his success, Paalam vowed to never forget his humble beginnings and keep his feet firmly on the ground.

"Simbolo (yung medal) ng buhay ko, kung saan ako galing," said Paala

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