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(SPOT.ph) The Philippines may not have any gold medals to its name (more on that later), but in no way does that diminish the achievements of these athletes who've sallied forth in pursuit of Olympic glory. As the 2012 London Olympics begins, we round up the Philippines' most athletic greats.
The opening ceremony to the 1924 Games
Greatest moment: The first Filipino Olympian (1924 Paris)
To formalize our entry to the International Olympic Committee in 1918, the Philippines was mandated to send a participant to the eighth Olympiad in Paris. But instead of sending a fleet of athletes, local officials instead decided to send one of our best.
Nepomuceno's fame as a sprint specialist led to his selection as the first Filipino—and Southeast Asian—athlete ever sent to the Olympics. But the then 24-year-old Nepomuceno failed to qualify for the quarterfinals of both the 100m and 200m sprint events (the former's finals was later dramatized in the film Chariots of Fires).
Unfortunately he was never again given the chance to compete at another Olympics. He died at the young age of 39 on September 27, 1939.
Greatest moments: Two-time Olympic bronze medal winner for the Men's 200m breaststroke (1928, Amsterdam; 1932, Los Angeles)
Yldefonso may very well be the greatest Olympian our country has ever produced. A native of Piddig, Ilocos Norte (hence his nickname "The Ilocano Shark"), Yldefonso's aquatic brilliance was first spotted in 1921, when the then 18-year-old started dominating local swimming competitions.
Seven years later, he got his first stint in the Olympics at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympiad, winning the bronze medal for the 200m backstroke. He returned anew to the quadrennial event for the Los Angeles Games in 1932, and brought home another bronze medal in the same event. His winning streak ended at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, finishing seventh in the finals.
Post-Olympics, he served as a Lieutenant during World War II, where he died at the Capas Concentration Camp in Tarlac.