Ex-Olympians remember Phl glory years
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - June 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - In a rare gathering of Olympians, the country’s past sports heroes reminisced the golden years of Philippine sports in the Philippine Olympians Association (POA) General Assembly in Alphaland in Makati recently.

They shared their Olympic experience and relived their glory days where they said discipline was foremost and the honor of playing for the country was their sole motivating factor.

“During our time, we are very disciplined and listened to our coaches. And we competed with no material incentives, just the honor of playing for the country,” said low hurdler Manolita Cinco Dopeno, 81, veteran of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

The oldest Olympian present was swimmer Jacinto Cayco, 89, from the 1948 London Olympics, who came with brother Pedro, 82, who also competed eight years later in Melbourne.

“I competed in cold water in London with no heated pools at that time,” said Cayco.

Also present were cage great and POA chairman Rafael Hechanova, 86, his Melbourne Olympics teammate Tony Genato, track and field’s two-time Olympian Claro Pellosis, 79, (Rome and Tokyo), and Mexico Olympiad basketball teammates Orly Bauzon and Elias Tolentino, now in their late 60s.

POA president and shooting champion Art Macapagal, who hosted the event, also belonged to this group of elite athletes.

Those in their 50s and are still active in sports were cyclist Rolando Guaves (Mexico), weightlifters three-time Olympian Salvador del Rosario (Mexico, Munich, and Montreal), Gregorio Colonia and Sammy Alegada, 1988 in Seoul.

1988 Seoul Olympians Monsour del Rosario and POA vice president Stephen Fernandez of taekwondo also graced the affair with Fernandez copping a bronze medal four years later in Spain.

Hechanova talked of his team’s legacy in basketball, the introduction of the 30-second rule after the celebrated “Long Freeze” by the team in 1954 in Brazil.

Del Rosario regretted that he and Fernandez faced off with Korean world champions in their very first bouts in Korea and were immediately eliminated; Guaves remembered using heavy bikes compared to the lightweight ones used by cyclists now; and Bauzon and Tolentino reminisced YCO teammates Freddie Webb and Ed Roque being cut by YCO and national coach Caloy Loyzaga in Mexico to the surprise of everybody.

The POA also presented taekwondo’s Sun Chon Hong and Smart Communications the POA’s awards for their contribution to Philippine sports while the newest members of the group, including those competed in the 2012 London Olympics were inducted by Hechanova.

Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes, who team is set to vie in the World Cup in Spain this Aug.-Sept., also delivered an inspirational talk on his dreams of being an Olympian, too.

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