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Teofilo Yldefonso to be inducted to International Swimming Hall of Fame


PhilBoxing.com


Move over, Manny Pacquiao, two-time Olympic bronze medalist Teofilo Yldefonso became the next Filipino to have been elevated to the world Hall of Fame.

Sixty eight years after his death as one of the thousands of Filipino victims of the infamous Death March during the Japanese occupation and 78 years after completing an unprecedented back-to-back third place Olympic Games finishes in swimming, Yldefonso stands to take his place in the International Swimming Hall of Fame sometime this year.

Ahead of Pacquiao, who, for becoming the first man ever to win seven world boxing championships in seven weight divisions was cinch to become most-likely as the next to join legendary Pancho Villa and Gabriel ?Flash? Elorde? as Filipino Hall of Famer in the sport of sweet science.

Yldefonso, according to Bob Duenkel of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based International Swimming Hall of Fame, in an e-mail sent to former Philippine Sports Commission media person Carmencita Velasco and this writer before end of last year, has been elected to the Hall.
?It is my happy privilege to announce that Teodfilo has been elected for Honor Membership into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. I am thrilled that he made it and will take his place as one of the greatest swimmers from the Philippines and the world,? Duenkel said.

The ISHF official did not mention though when Yldefonso will formally be inducted to the prestigious roster of the world?s greatest swimmers and Olympians.

The first and only Filipino to win a pair of Olympic medals, Yldefonso, thus, earned the distinction as the first from this shore to be a Hall of Famer in an Olympic sports.
Another Filipino, Paeng Nepomuceno, had earlier been installed in Bowling?s Hall of Fame for emerging the only man ever to win four World Cup championships in four separate decades.
Softball officials, the late Rizal provincial Gov. Isidro Rodriguez and Eriberto Landero, likewise, landed a place each in the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame for the non-athlete category.

Yldefonso, a native of Piddig, Ilocos Norte and member of the Philippine Scouts when he perished at the Capas Concentration Camp in Tarlac on June 19, 1942, merited the honor for finishing third place in the 200-meter breaststroke in swimming in the IXth edition of the Olympic Games in 1928 in Amsterdam, four years after the Philippines? first stint in the quadrennial conclave and the next four years later in Los Angeles.
What made Yldefonso?s 1928 bronze medal victory sweeter was he broke an Olympic record en route to the medal round.
He ended up behind eventual gold medalist Yoshiyuki Tsuruta of Japan who clocked an Olympic record two minutes and 48.8 seconds in beating Erich Rudemacher of Germany.

On the way to the bronze medal romp, Yldefonso, one of 52 athletes killed by the Japanese during the Second World War, swam in the second heat of the preliminaries of the 200 breast where ended up third behind Harling of Swden and Schafer of Austria. Only the top two finishers in their respective heats would advance into the semifinal round, but the Filipino made it as the best among the third place finishers.

Swimming against Tsuruta and Spencer of Canada in the semis, Yldefonso advanced to the finals by ending up third in 2:53.2 behind th3e Japanese?s 2:49.2 and the Canadian?s 2:53.
All three clocking broke the Olympic records in the event, thus, making Yldefonso the first Filipino to surpass an Olympic standard.
Yldefonso repeated in 1932 during the Xth Games in Los Angeles that marked the most successful Philippine campaign in the once every-four-year conclave known as the ?Greatest Sports Show on Earth.?
Besides Yldefonbso?s back-to-back bronze medal harvest, that Los Angeles Games also saw high jumper Simeon Toribio and boxer Jose ?Cely? Villanueva brought home a bronze each.
Villanueva?s son Anthony, 32 years later, would hand the country the first of its only two silver medal.

Born in Sitio Bayog, Barruio Binmanga in Piddig town on November 4, 1903, Yldofonso, who died with a rank of lieutenant, was honored by the town, headed by the then Mayor Modesto Clemente, by erecting a monument at the town plaza which inaugurated on February14, 2006 in the presence of fifth child Hermninia Yldefonso-Reyes, who flew all the way from the United States to witness the unveiling.

The Sangguniang Bayan, likewise, declared November 4, his natal day, as Teofilo Yldefonso Day. That was the fist and last time the feast was observed, however, as officials of the the new town administration reportedly belong to another political party.

(EDDIE G. ALINEA wrote this article for THE MANILA TIMES)



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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