David Nepomuceno – First Filipino to compete in Olympics

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David Nepomuceno

David Nepomuceno photo provided by Rainier Virginio

David Nepomuceno
photo provided by Rainier Virginio

After our first great sprinter Fortunato Catalon who won four consecutive far east titles from 1917 to 1923. In the 100 yards (91m) and 220 yards (201.1m) and 1925 100m. His successor was David Nepomuceno. Nepomuceno came to dominate in an era when the metric system was replacing the old imperial yard system.

*The 200m straight race was popular until the 1960s when it was deleted from the record books.

The US Navy man Nepomuceno whose taller frame and longer stride was better suited to the additional 9 meters added. Raher than the shorter aging Fortunato Catalon who was a few years older than Nepomuceno. The two Filipino sprinters were ranked among the top ten in the world  throughout a lot of the 1920’s, a feat which has never been equaled since.

Nepomuceno having defeated Catalon at the 1924 National Championships was selected as the sole representative for the Olympic Games in Paris France. He was the first ever Filipino to represent the Philippines. The Philippines joined the IOC (International Olympic Commitee in 1918). Nepomuceno failed to qualify past the first round of the 100 and 200m. 

In 1925 he ran 2/5 of a second short of the then world record. Nepomuceno specialized in the 100m. At the 1925 Far East Games he clocked the fastest time of 10.8 in the heats. But in a muddy rain drenched final it was the shorter legs of Catalon which held the advantage in the pouring rain to win the gold in a slow 11.1. with Nepomuceno coming home second. Nepomuceno however was the victor in the 200m (straight race) defeating Catalon.

In 1927 he won the 100m (11.0) but failed to defend his 200m title finishing third at the Far East Games. Although Nepomuceno was still top 10 in the world by 1927, he had fallen behind a new upcoming star 21 year old Anselmo Gonzaga who broke the Philippine Record with a mark of 10.5s a record that Nepomuceno had held since 1924.

Nepomuceno died in action during World War II along with several other Filipino athletes on September 27, 1939.

**No image currently available for David Nepomuceno please email any to pinoyathletics@gmail.com as well as additional info.

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