Jaime Grafilo

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Jaime Grafilo

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Jaime Grafilo

As a 17 year old school boy in 1979 Grafilo had a PB of 49.7 in the 400m Dash heading into the ASEAN School Games that year. He was selected to play in the 1979 SEA Games but did no do well finishing fifth in 58.32. Well below the 54.6 he had clocked in the Palaro to establish a new national high school record.

Early Days running in Palaro beating Rey Recino

Early Days running in Palaro beating Rey Recino

Grafilo was one of those selected to join the Gintong Alay Program in 1979 and worked with Australian coach Tony Benson making dramatic improvements. He was also a student at FEU.

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At the 1980 ASEAN School Games, Grafilo then still 18 set the Phi National Junior Record with a run of 49.01. Which stood until Ralph Soguilon broke it in 2002 at the UAAP. He won the ASEAN School Games 400 Hurdles in 54.60. Also he took siver in the 200m with a time of 22.03.

The Highlight and famous part of Grafilo career was his surprise win over the highy favored Renato Unso in the 1981 SEA Games in Manila. Having only qualified 5th from the Heats in 54.11 behind Unso 53.32, Chong-jong (MAS) 53.68, Kettishak (THA) 53.87, and Hlaing (BUR) 54.10. It was expected that Grafilo having ran a PB may not even figure in the medals. Consequently he drew the very difficult lane 8 in the finals.

In what can only be seen as one of the great shocks in SEA Games History Grafilo took nearly two seconds off his PB to run 52.19. Which until this very day still stands as the Philippine Junior Record some 35 years later. Unso faded to fourth with 53.46, he would get his turn two years later.

Jaime Grafilo

Jaime Grafilo is one of the rare hurdlers who leads with his left. This makes it tough when he is on the inner lane. In the race of his life, Grafilo was on the outside lane in the 400m hurdles final in the 1981 SEA Games. Jose Ravello, then technical director, muttered to me:”Did you see that?” Grafilo held in gold medal in disbelief in the Gintong Alay coaster to the UL quarters. From Ignacio Dee.

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In the interim between SEA Games Grafilo made it to the Final of the Asian Games a feat that would not be repeated by a Filipino male Hurder until 2014 by Eric Shauwn Cray.

In 1983 Singapore SEA Games Grafilo was not able to defend his title and took silver behind Unso who set the Phiippine Record in 51.26, Grafilo clocked what ended up as his career best of 51.87.

With the surprise retirement of Renato Unso at the young age of 25 it was expected Grafilo would be left rather unchallenged in his pet 400 Hurdles event. Two years later in 1985 Singapore SEA Games Grafilo, faded to a miserable sixth place in 56.01. If it was any consolation the event was won by yet another Filipino sprinter Leopoldo Arnillo. After this Grafilo also retired from the sport

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