From the time sprinter David Nepomuceno represented the country for the first time in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, the Philippines has, so far, sent a total 331 athletes to the quadrennial Games, known as the “Greatest Sports Show on Earth.”
Until the Summer Games’ last staging in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Filipino athletes have, by far, brought home 10 Olympic medals — three silver medals and seven bronze medals.
Boxing, proves the top medal-producing sport with two of that silver medal harvest and three bronze medals for a total of 10.
None of the total 331 athletes dispatched to carry the national colors has ever won a gold medal, although the Philippines has earned the distinction as the only second country with most medals won sans a gold behind Malaysia, which has 11 medals.
The Philippines, likewise, earned the honor as the first country in Southeast Asia to win an Olympic medal when in 1928 or four years after Nepomuceno’s zero medal stint, swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso gifted the country and the regions their first — a bronze — when he ended up third in his favorite 200-meter breaststroke event.
Yldefonso, a member of the Philippine Scout from Piddig town in Ilocos Norte, who died during the infamous death march in World War II, duplicated his heroics the next time around in 1932 in Los Angeles, becoming the only Filipino to bring home a pair of bronze medal back-to- back.
The first of the three silver medals won by the Filipinos came courtesy of fighter Anthony “Boy” Villanueva, good-looking 19-year-old, heavy-punching featherweight during the XIII Games of the Olympiad in 1964 in Tokyo, the same Asian City hosting the 2020 Games,
Boy was, actually, denied of what could’ve been our first gold medal when he lost his final bout with Soviet Stanislav Stephaskin via a close albeit controversial 2-3 decision.
The other silver medal finishes won by the country was through the efforts of another boxer, Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco 72 years later in 1996 during the celebration of the Games Centennial in Atlanta.
The third and last was that of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who matched Boy Villanueva and Onyok Velasco’s feats only four years ago in Rio de Janeiro.
The first of boxing’s three bronze haul was actually handed down by Boy Vilanueva’s father, bantamweight Jose “Cely” Villanueva, in the Philippines’ rich three-medal production in 1932 in Los Angeles,
In that LA’s second serving as host of the Games, where Yldefonso got, too, his second, high jumper Simeon Toribio made it three for the national contingent in a dramatic performance that had him battling it out against world-class rivals.
Other bronze medal finishes amassed by the Filipino athletes came from Miguel White in the 400-hurdles of athletics in 1936 in Berlin and fighters, Leopoldo Serrantes in Seoul in 1988 and Roel Velasco, Onyok’s older brother, in 1992 in Barcelona.
It was in the Berlin Games where basketball was first played with the Philippines four of its five outings only to end up, for unexplained reasons, fifth instead of going home with the silver medal.
The gold medal in bowling won by Arianne Cerdena in 1988 and a pair more of bronze medals in taekwondo taken by Stephen Fernandez and gymnast-turned jin Bea Lucero, were not counted to the Philippines’ winnings as both sports were held as demonstration events.