The Philippines’ 49-athlete contingent, sent to carry the country’s colors in the first Olympic Games held in Latin America, failed to take advantage of the momentum of featherweight boxer Anthony Villanueva’s silver medal heroics four years back in Rome, returning home empty handed anew.
This, despite the presence of future world weightlifting champion Salvador del Rosario in the lineup. The nephew of 1952 fourth placer Rodrigo, also in weightlifting, was obliged to compete in the bantamweight division in Mexico City and was disqualified on technicalities.
An organic flyweight campaigner, the younger del Rosario, team captain of the national weightlifting squad to the Mexico Games, had a good start, easily lifting his initial attempts until technicalities, attributed to being new to the bantamweight rules, were raised.
Badong, as he was fondly called in the local weightlifting scene who two years later was to win the World Championship, accepted his fate that led to his becoming the first and only Filipino to reach the 700-pound barrier in the competition.
Joining Badong in the list 1968 Olympic Games of Honor Roil were pool sharks Amman Jalmmani and Roosevelt Abdulgafar, who both advanced into the semis of their favorite events.
Jalmaani, swimming the 100m breaststroke finished third in his heat in the trials to make it to the next round where he was eventually eliminated in the medal race.
The same fate incurred by Abdulgafar, who ended up fourth in the trials of the 100m freestyle, advanced but could not reach any further.
Distance runner Benjamin Silva-Netto, ended up 49th in the field of 57 marathoners, and was eliminated from further contention, but not until after setting a Philippine record two hours, 56 minutes and 19.4 seconds.
Silva-Netto, vied for honors in the 10,000m and 5,000m runs.
The mother of one daughter with fellow former athlete Lydia Silva-Netto, Ben clocked 32:15.2 in the 10k run at the tail-end of a field of 31 runners in what, likewise, turned out a new national mark.
Following their failure to qualify in the 1964 Tokyo Games, the Filipino basketeers, returned to the Olympics in 1968 where they fashioned out a modest 13th place windup, two notches short of the 11th their 1960 Rome counterparts did.
Coached by Carlos Loyzaga, the 1968 Mexico Olympics quintet was made up of practically the same team that regained for the country, also mentored by Loyzaga, the Asian Basketball Confederation (now FIBA Asia) diadem a year later in 1967.
Led by Robert Jaworski and Danilo Florencio, hero of that 1967 ABC title conquest, the Philippine side won three and lost six of its outings, which proved enough for that 13th place final standing.
The boys of Loyzaga bowed to Italy, 66-91; Spain, 79-108; the US, 75-96; Panama, 92-95; Puerto Rico, 65-89; ang Yugoslavia, 89-68, while beating Senegal, 80-68; Morocco, 86-57; and South Korea, 86-63.
Those only three wins, led Basketball Association of the Philippines, then the sport ruling body, to declare the Filipinos — made up also of Orlando Bauzon, Rogelio Melencio, Ed Ocampo, Jun Papa, Renato Reyes, Alberto Reynoso, Jake Rojas, Elias Tolentino, Alfonso Marquez and Jaime Mariano champions of both the Asian and African Regions.
Nine shooters, five other swimmers, four boxers, three cyclists, two gymnasts, two other lifters and four wrestlers rounded out the 1968 PH contingent, but none were able to go past the opening rounds in their events. ( Eddie Alinea; Reprinted form manila Times)