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Catalon: The brightest star in the 1925 FEG

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The Philippines played host to the three-nation Far Eastern Games (FEG) for the third time in 1925 when Filipino athletes reclaimed the general championship they lost to Japan in1923 in the port city of Osaka.

That actually, was the Filipinos’ fifth and last overall victory in the biennial conclave that started, also in Manila but had to be dismantled after its 10th edition in 1934 due to the breakout of World War II.

Like in their previous general championship triumphs, the Filipinos dominated track and field with dasher Fortunato Catalon ending his 10-year stint in the national team by remaining Asia’s ‘Sprint King’ for the fifth straight time dating back to 1917, the year he started beating all-comers for the distinct honor.

Fortunato Catalon PHOTO FROM EDDIE ALINEA’S FILE

The then 28-year-old native of Tolosa Town in Leyte only managed to repeat in the 100-meter run but that proved enough to raise his gold medal winning to 12 overall, nine of them in individual events, becoming the most be-medalled Filipino campaigner in the meet among the strongest athletes from Japan, China and the Philippines.


Catalon, who once ran he century dash in a fast 09.8 seconds clocking in March 1923 that ranked him sixth in the world that year, also brought silver medal each in the 4 x 200-m relay and the 4 x 400-m relay.

The Philippines, again, swept the dashes when 1924 Paris Olympian David Nepomuceno, topped the 200 meters and along with nine more victories courtesy of hurdle and shot putter Generoso Rabaya, middle distance ace Francisco Danao, Pedro Abiera, Eliseo Razo, Antonio Alo Genaro Rivera, Regino Birtulfo, Rufino Ico, and Juan Taduran regained the overall title in athletics.

With Mariano Filomeno, Lou Salvador, Vicente Avena and Augusto Bautista regaining their superiority over their Chinese counterparts, the Philippines, won back the basketball crown taken from them in 1923.

Baseball and volleyball, likewise, continued to be the domain of the host country. Lefty Vicente Jaropillo remained the master on the mound as the Filipino sluggers reaffirmed their over the Japanese and Chinese batters.

So were the spikers, who worked behind the power-smashing future Caloocan Mayor Macario Asistio, Rica­redo dela Rosa and Tomas d e Castro in cruising to their back-to-back title win at the expense of the Chinese.

Filipino footballers, however, continued to be the favorite whipping boys of the Chinese, who captured the event for the fifth straight time despite the presence of soon-to-be senator Lorenzo Tanada, Virgilio Lobregat and Sebastian Ugarte in the PH XI.

Rabaya came up with a double whammy, winning 110 hurdles and shot put, while Danao, topped the 400-meter run. Abiera, likewise, completed a sweep of the hurdles events ruling the 200 hurdles, with Razo proved unbeatable in high jump.

Also ruling their respective events were Alo in pole vault, Rivera in long jump, Birtulfo in discuss throw, Ico in javelin and Taduran in the 10-event decathlon, a discipline he also ruled in 1923.

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