Torre: ‘Hall’ honors to inspire others
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - January 25, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Grandmaster Eugene Torre hopes the prestigious Philippine Sports Hall of Fame and the recognition bestowed upon the inductees like him will further inspire the current crop of athletes to strive for excellence in their respective fields.

Torre, Asia’s first GM, is  part of the second batch of 17 sports legends feted by the Philippine Sports Commission set to be honored  last night for their achievements from 1924 through 1974.

“Para sa Philippine sports, magmimitsa itong encouragement para mas lalong ganahan yung mga batang athletes natin na magpursigi…lalo na kung nakikita nila na binibigyang halaga ang lahat ng efforts at pawis (This will spark encouragement and inspiration to young athletes to work harder knowing their efforts and achievements will be given due recognition someday),” Torre said during a guesting on dsZR yesterday morning.

Torre shared the spotlight with former Asian Games sprint star Mona Sulaiman, multi-titled swimmer Heidi Coloso-Espino, former world weightlifting champion Salvador del Rosario, national basketball players Ed Ocampo, Mariano Tolentino, and Kurt Bachmann. tennis players Felicisimo Ampon, Johnny Jose, and Raymundo Deyro,  athletic standouts Inocencia Solis and Isaac Gomez,  shooters Adolfo “Chito” Feliciano and Martin Gison, and swimmers Jacinto Cayco, Gerardo “Ral” Rosario, and Mohamad Pala in the Hall of Fame rites.

They joined the ranks of the 10 pioneer Hall of Fame awardees, world boxing champions Pancho Villa, Ceferino Garcia, and Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, amateur boxer Jose Villanueva and Anthony Villanueva, the country’s first Olympic silver medalist, tracksters Simeon Toribio and Miguel White, swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso, basketball legend Caloy Loyzaga and the 1954 men’s basketball team that copped the bronze in the 1954 world championships in Brazil.

“Excited at masaya tayo dahil binibigyan ng pagpapahalaga kung ano man ang humble achievements na nakuha naming mga atleta na talaga namang nag-dedicate, nag-focus at binigay ang lahat-lahat (I’m grateful that our humble achievements are being recognized),” said the 64-year-old Torre.

The PSC handed plaques and P100,000 for each of the inductees to the Hall of Fame, which was created by Republic Act 8757.

“Ang importante dito, ang ating gobyerno at pangkalahatang bayan ay opisyal na binibigyan ng pagpapahalaga itong achievements ng awardees (It’s very important that our government and the whole country altogether are officially recognizing the awardees’ feats),” he said.

Torre earned his GM title at the 1974 the Olympiad in Nice France, where he won the bronze medal with a nine-win, 11-draw performance and led Phl to 11th spot. He campaigned in Spain and other parts of Europe the entire year in pursuit of the coveted GM title.

“Wala pang GM sa Asia noon kaya naging motivation ko (No one from Asia had become a GM then so that served as my motivation),” said Torre, who achieved the feat at age 22.

“Sa chess, pantay-pantay naman lahat eh, walang maliit,matangkad o maputi. Wala akong nakikita na lamang yung isa over the other (Chess offers a level playing field, no one has a real advantage over the other),” he said.

After breaking through in 1974, Torre went on to post more milestones. In 1976, he dealt then world champion GM Anatoly Karpov a rare defeat in a “Quadrangular Tournament” in Manila, and later became the first Asian to qualify for the World Candidates Chess Championships. He has represented Phl in the Olympiad for a record 22 times.


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