About Me

My photo
I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

May 28, 2012

Philippine Marathoners in the Olympics

August 12 is the date set for the running of the men’s marathon in the 2012 London Olympics.  I have marked that date and I hope to be in front of a big TV/computer screen  to witness this great athletic spectacle.    Of all the sporting events of the Olympics, the marathon is the one that has provided great drama and high points.  

Olympic Games 2012 Marathon

Sadly, I think there will be no Philippine flag running in the London Olympics Marathon. Latest  press release(s)  from the Philippine  Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) point to only 1 male Philippine representative in the athletics events and it is for the 3,000-meter steeplechase. (http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/sports/top-sports-news/23637-patafa-names-athletics-bet-for-london-olympics)

It is sad because the absence of a Pinoy runner in the marathon event runs counter to the undeniable fact that running is booming and very much alive in all of the Philippines.  Kung kailan pa naging “mainstream” at “popular” ang pagsali  sa marathon ngayon naman nawalan ng Pinoy sa Olympic marathon.  

I have no idea as to the reason why the Philippines cannot send a marathoner to the London Olympics.  It could be that no Pinoy runner hit the Olympic standard of 2 hours 12 mins.

What do I do when I am sad?  I drown the sadness by being nostalgic and doing research of historical significance, which is why I came up with this research work of listing down and hopefully getting to know more about the runners that have represented our beloved country in the Olympic marathons.

As far as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) records show, there are 6 Philippine marathoners in Olympic history. They are :

Benjamin Silva-Netto  -           1968 Mexico OIympics
Victor Idava -                          1976 Montreal Olympics
Leonardo Illut -                       1984 Los Angeles Olympics
Herman  Suizo -                      1992 Barcelona Olympics
Roy Vence -                             1996 Atlanta Olympics
Eduardo Buenavista -              2004 Athens Olympics

Hereunder are their respective Olympic performances:

1968 Mexico City Olympics 

            1 Mamo Wolde  (Ethiopia)                 2:20:26
            2 Kenji Kimihara (Japan)                  2:23:31
            3 Mike Ryan (New Zealand)               2:34:45
            49 Benjamin Silva-Netto (Phils)      2:56:19

A total of 74 competitors from 41 countries.  17 DNF.  Silva-Netto also participated in the 5,000 meters (17:10.15 lasted in the first round  and 10,000 meters 32:35.2 up to the final standings ).

1976 Montreal Olympics

  1 Waldemar Cierpinski (East Germany)           2:09:55
  2 Frank Shorter (USA)                                    2:10:45
  3 Karel Lismont (Belgium)                              2:11:12
40 Bill Rogers (USA)                                         2:25:14
57 Victor Idava (Phils)                                    2:38:23

A total of 67 competitors from 36 countries.  7 DNF.

1984 Los Angeles  Olympics 

                1 Carlos Lopes (Portugal)               2:09:21
                2 John Treacy (Ireland)                  2:09:56
                3 Charles Spedding (Great Britain) 2:09:58
             77 Leonardo Illut (Philippines)        2:49:39

A  total of 78 athletes completed the race.  There were 107 competitors from 59 countries.  

1992 Barcelona Olympics 

              1 Hwang Young-Cho (South Korea)         2:13:23
              2 Koichi Morishita (Japan)                      2:13:45
              3 Stephan Freigang (Germany)               2:14:00
            52 Herman Suizo (Philippines)               2:25:18

A total of 82 athletes finished.   112 competitors from 72 countries.

1996 Atlanta Olympics
           1 Josia Thugwane (South Africa)                 2:12:36
           2 Lee Bong-Ju (South Korea)                       2:12:39
           3 Erick Wainaina (Kenya)                            2:12:44
       100 Roy Vence (Philippines)                         2:37:10
124 competitors from 79 countries.  13 DNF.

2004 Athens Olympics 

           1 Stefano Baldini (Italy)                                2:10:55
           2 Mebrahtom Keflezighi (USA)                      2:11:29
           3 Vanderlie deLima (Brazil)                           2:12:11
         67 Eduardo Buenavista  (Philippines)           2:28:18

A total of 81 finished.  20 DNF. 1 DNS.

Of the 6 Pinoy marathon olympians, Herman Suizo registered the fastest finish time of 2:25:18.  The one with the highest finish is the pioneer Benjamin Silva-Netto at 49th place. 

Not one of the 6 Philippine marathoners won an Olympic medal.  But for me, the more important note is that  not one of the 6 did not finish their respective Olympic marathon.  Pinoy runners are no quitters.  I am sure they all give their best and they all competed with honor.

Interestingly, our Pinoy Olympian marathons were also Milo Marathon Champs:

Viktor Idava       Milo 1975             2:54:35 
Leonardo Illut    Milo 1983             2:33:22
Herman Suizo    Milo 1997              2:28:57 
Roy Vence          Milo   1993           2:29:55
                                   1994           2:24:52
                                   1996           2:29:58
                                   1998           2:23:52
                                   1999           2:28:50
                                   2004           2:24:23
Eduardo Buenavista   Milo 2002     2:22:52
                                         2008     2:23:37
                                         2010     2:24:18

Of the 6, the only one not to be crowned Milo Marathon champ is Silva-Netto and this is because the Milo Marathon started only in 1974, past his heydays.  I bet if there was a Milo Marathon already in 1968, Silva-Netto would be the hands on favorite to win it.

In the coming weeks and months, I will try to research more on these 6 individuals and hopefully come up with a write up for each.  I am sure they have interesting life stories to tell.  For those with action photos of these Pinoy running greats or those who have contact, let me know via email (vmdelima@firstbalfour.com).

For now,  allow me to close this article in a positive and happy note for the Bicolano Penguin.  Two of the six  Philippine Olympic Marathoners are Bicolanos :  Silva-Netto from Naga City and Idava from Catanduanes.   


1 comment:

  1. Does a Filipino marathoner who wants to qualify for the Olympic marathon have to hit the Olympic standard? Based on the country's previous marathon finishes, it would appear those qualifiers would be unable to meet the standard. Or is it simply, if the Philippines wanted a representative, a trial would be held and they could send 1 athlete since none hit the standard?