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Tiebreaker Times

2020 Tokyo Olympics

The last time Team PH won multiple medals in the Olympics


Nesthy Petecio’s win over Colombia’s Yeni Arias Castaneda Wednesday morning was huge not just for Philippine boxing but also for the country.

It assured Team Pilipinas of its first multi-medal finish in the games in 89 years, with Hidilyn Diaz winning gold last Monday and Petecio also assured of a podium finish.

Yes, it took 89 long years before two Filipino athletes had medals around their necks in the quadrennial meet.

So what happened during the 1932 Summer Games in Los Angeles?

Back in 1932, the Philippines sent eight athletes to the Games in high jumper Simeon Toribio; boxing flyweight John Gray, bantamweight Jose Villanueva, lightweight Jose Padilla Jr., and welterweight Carlos Padilla; and swimming’s Abdurahman Ali (100m freestyle), Teófilo Yldefonso, and Jikirum Adjaluddin (200m breaststroke) — up from four athletes from the 1928 Amsterdam Games.

Gray, Jose Padilla, and Carlos Padilla ended up losing in the Round of 16 while Ali could not advance past the heats.

For their part, Yldefonso and Adjaluddin qualified to the semis and made it to the finals, clocking in at 2:48.4 and 2:50.2 in the semis.

Villanueva defeated Japan’s Akira Nakao in the quarterfinals but fell to Canada’s Lefty Gwynne to drop to the bronze medal match.

On July 31 of that year, Toribio, who was declared as “Asia’s Greatest Athlete” two years prior, figured in a jump-off with USA’s Cornelius Johnson and Bob Van Osdel; and Canada’s Duncan McNaughton as all cleared 1.97m.

It was McNaughton who earned gold after clearing it on the first attempt. Though details of everything else were not reported, it was Toribio who won bronze — the country’s second-ever bronze.

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In a report by Jorge Afable, “Toribio could have won the gold medal, if not only for the ‘call of nature’.”

August 13, 1932 proved to be a historic day for Philippine sports as two more bronzes were secured.

Yldefonso clocked in a 2:47.1 to take bronze — .5 split seconds behind Japan’s Reizo Koike and 1.7 seconds from Yoshiyuki Tsuruta.

Villanueva, on the other hand, defeated USA’s Joseph Lang for a bronze hattrick for Team Pilipinas.

What happened to the trio?

Yldefonso would compete in the 1936 Berlin Games in what ended up his last competition as World War II erupted three years later.

Tragic was the demise of the Piddig, Ilocos Norte-native as he was part of the Philippine Scouts. Though he survived the Bataan Death March, he passed away at the Capas Concentration Camp.

Turbio would become a civil engineer after the Los Angeles Games and would be elected to the House of Representatives of the Philippines, representing the Second District of Bohol. He passed away on June 5, 1969 at the age of 63.

Villanueva would become a renowned trainer, including being part of Flash Elorde’s corner. He died at the age of 73 on November 11, 1983.

Their legacy

Up until this day, their legacy lives on as their record has yet to be matched.

But with favorites Yuka Saso, Eumir Marcial, and Irish Magno still contention, their record might be matched or even broken in a few weeks time.

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