100 Olympic Tidbits: The Last Filipino Medalist

Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco was the last Filipino to win an Olympic medal. The boxer from Bago City, Negros Occidental won a silver medal in the 48kg or lightflyweight division at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Onyok had previously won a gold in the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games, and was considered a dark in Atlanta. He got off to a good start, stopping his first opponent, Chih-Hsiu Tsai of Chinese Taipei, in the first round, and then outpointing highly-regarded Cuban Yosvani Aguilera, 14-5, in the second round. A 20-10 victory over Morocco’s Hamid Berhili in the third round assured Velasco of a bronze medal, but he went one step further by beating Rafael Lozano of Spain, 22-10, in the semifinals to barge into the gold medal match.

But the dream of winning his country’s first-ever Olympic gold went up in smoke as he dropped a 19-6 decision to Bulgaria’s Daniel Petrov Bojinov in the finals. Despite his defeat, Velasco was given a hero’s welcome upon his return to the Philippines. There were high hopes that the silver medal would spark more Olympic success for the country, but sadly no other Filipino athlete has come close to duplicating Velasco’s feat.

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