Swimmer Cayco, 16 others inducted into Hall of Fame
JACINTO Cayco, at 91 the oldest living Filipino Olympian, suddenly looked like a spry 25-year-old, Mona Sulaiman beamed with pride in a wheelchair and a frail Johnny Jose walked gallantly up the stage with his wife and son.
The trio shared the spotlight with 14 other sports luminaries and their representatives during the glittering Philippine Sports Hall of Fame Awards at Century Park Hotel on Monday night.
Swimmer Haydee Coloso-Espino, who won 10 Asian Games medals in the 1950s and ’60s, joined the inductees along with Raymundo Deyro (tennis), Adolfo Feliciano Jr. (shooting), Isaac Gomez (track and field) and Gerardo “Ral” Rosario (swimming).
Eugene Torre rubbed elbows with his fellow sports heroes, the second batch of honorees since the Hall of Fame was institutionalized six years ago.
Torre, Asia’s first grandmaster and the youngest in the group at 64, rose to prominence in 1976 when he beat then-reigning world champion Anatoly Karpov in a four-man tournament in Manila.
The relatives of deceased heroes Kurt Bachmann, Mariano Tolentino and Edgardo Ocampo of basketball, Martin Gison (shooting), Inocencia Solis (track and field) and Salvador del Rosario (weightlifting) delivered acceptance speeches.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco Jr. and Philippine Sports Commission Chair Richie Garcia presented the awards along with Sen. Sonny Angara, Rep. Yeng Guiao and Rep. Wes Gatchalian and POC first vice president Joey Romasanta.
No family member received the award for Felicisimo Ampon of tennis and swimmer Mohammad Mala.
Ampon, hailed as the greatest Filipino tennis player of all time, holds the all-time record for the most singles wins in the Davis Cup.
Philippine Tennis Association secretary general Romy Magat received the award for Ampon while Philippine Swimming Inc. official Lani Velasco accepted the plaque for Mala, Cayco’s contemporary who bagged two silvers and one bronze in the 1951 Asian Games in New Delhi, India.
Cayco, a 1948 London Olympian, is one of the country’s finest swimmers in the 1950s, nailing a golden double in the 1951 Asiad, while the sprinter Sulaiman snared three golds (100m and 200m dash and 4x100m relay) in the 1962 Asian Games.
Jose played alongside Ampon and Deyro during his prime. In the 1962 Jakarta Asiad, the crafty Jose took the gold in the men’s singles and doubles and shared in the team victory.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.