Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Remembering Simeon Galvez Toribio: Three-time Olympian from Bohol

Mention the name Simeon Galvez Toribio to the present generation of young Boholanos and the responses would either be a perplexed look in the face or a blank stare.

The reaction is expected for Simeon Toribio is from a different era. So let's go back in time to get reacquainted with the legendary Boholano athlete. 
Considered one of the greatest Boholanos who ever lived, Simeon G. Toribio (September 3, 1905 – June 5, 1969) was a Filipino athlete, who won the bronze medal in the high jump at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, United States.

He was one of the country’s highly revered and respected sporting elite who represented the Philippines in three consecutive Summer Olympics, starting in 1928.


The Filipino made his Olympic debut in Antwerp back in 1928. American Bob King won gold with a superior mark of 1.94m. The next four jumpers, included Toribio, the only Asian who went all the way to the final round, had identical jumps of 1.91m.

There were a total of 35 men who battled it out in the qualifying heats. Only 18 of them made it to the final round.

When the bar reached 1.91m, only five athletes made successful clearances. These five were American sports hero Bob King and two American teammates, Frenchman Claude Menard and Simeon Toribio of the Philippines. However, Toribio missed out on the bronze in the ensuing jump-off.


He reached the pinnacle of his career in Los Angeles, where he sailed over 1.97m to win bronze. The 1932 Summer Olympics was the Philippines’ most successful foray into the World’s Greatest Show, with three bronze medals. Teofilo Yldefonso snared his second Olympic third place finish in as many attempts, while boxer Jose Villanueva grabbed the bronze medal in the bantamweight division.
 1932 Olympics High Jump Top Three:
GOLD Canada, BRONZE Simeon Toribio & SILVER U.S.A.

HIGH JUMP TOP THREE The high jump competition in Los Angeles was a long drawn battle, taking four hours according to Afable. With the top four jumpers all tied with clearances of 1.97m, another jump-off was held to determine the final placements. The competitors all failed to clear 2.007m and 1.99m. 

The gold was awarded to Canada’s Daniel McNaughton, who had a first-time clearance over 1.97m, while Bob Van Osdel of the United States took the silver.


Toribio competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, his third Olympiad, but finished outside the medals race.


Simeon Toribio, the pride of Bohol, was considered the "Filipino Field Athlete of the Half Century" and "Asia's Best Athlete" for winning gold medals in the high jump event in the Far Eastern Olympics in 1921, 1923, 1927, 1930 and 1934 and a bronze medal in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

Toribio was the quintessential Filipino athlete. In Jorge Afable’s “Philippine Sports Greats”, he was described as a very disciplined man who knew how to balance a full-time job with a no non-sense athletics training regimen.


In 1930, Toribio was awarded the Helms World Trophy for being Asia's greatest athlete. He became a lawyer and a congressman representing Bohol province where he later settled. 

He had occupations including lawyer, politician, athlete and professional athlete. In his heyday, the tall Toribio reigned supreme in Asian high jumping circles. In a thirteen year period spanning from 1921 to 1934,the Filipino champion won a staggering five gold medals in Far Eastern Games, the precursor to today’s Asian Games.

Before this, Toribio narrowly missed the bronze in the 1928 Amsterdam Games. 


Toribio, who studied at Silliman University, later became a lawyer. In 1941, he was elected to the House of Representatives of the Philippines, representing the Second District of Bohol, and serving until 1953. During the War, he narrowly escaped arrest by the Kempeitai when a Japanese officer saw one of Toribio’s mementoes from the 1923 Far Eastern Games in Osaka.  Since it was the Japanese emperor’s birthday, the Kempeitai officer spared Toribio. 


He quietly retired in Bohol after serving Congress for 12 years. He died in June 5, 1969 at the age of 63 years and 9 months old.

1932 Olympian and bronze medalist Simeon Toribio the first Filipino of only two Filipinos to ever win a track and field medal at an Olympic Games and the first man to clear 2.00meters.

It has been more than eighty years since Simeon Toribio won the high jump bronze medal from the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

The legendary Boholano athlete is best remembered for his world- class exploits in the field of sports

Let us honor and remember our nearly- forgotten athletes who brought fame & glory to this nation. By bringing back his story into the collective consciousness, it is Your Blogger’s ardent wish that this could bring back a sense of pride and serve as inspiration & as fuel for our young Boholano athletes to do their best and be the best version of themselves.

SPECIAL THANKs TO Madame Che Toribio De Los Reyes, granddaughter of Simeon Toribio for the photos taken during the Pagpupugay  Tribute for the Philippines’ Greatest Athletes held recently at Resort World

Photo Credits: Copyright infringement not intended

Extra Special Blog Feature

Part 1: The Tragic Story of Amparo Munoz

  no fairy tale ending SPAIN CONQUERED THE PHILIPPINES AGAIN. Whenever discussions and debates center on who is considered as the m...