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David Nepomuceno


Photo Credit: David Nepomuceno photo provided by Rainier Virginio

David Nepomuceno – First Filipino to compete in Olympics

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.

He was born in Oas Albay in 1900.

And enlisted in the Philippine Scouts after starring in school competitions.


Olympic Games

David 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 Committee in 1918). David failed to qualify past the first round of the 100 and 200m. 

He was accompanied to Paris by Dr. Reginio Ylanan.

In 1925 he ran 2/5 of a second short of the then world record. David 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 David coming home second.

However, Nepomuceno 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.



In conclusion, 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 and deleted from the record books.

The US Navy man Nepomuceno whose taller frame and the longer stride was better suited to the additional 9 meters added.

Rather than the shorter aging Fortunato Catalon who was a few years older than Nepomuceno.

Therefore the two Filipino sprinters were ranked among the top ten in the world throughout a lot of the 1920s.

In other words, a feat that has never been equaled.

By Andrew Pirie

Andrew was elected Vice President of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians in 2020 after being a member for 7 years. He has worked as a PSC Consultant and Research Assistant from 2013-2015, Consultant, and Sprint Coach at Zamboanga Sports Academy from 2015-2017. Current editor and chief of, and has recently done consultancy work for Ayala Corp evaluating the Track and Field Program. Coaches Sprints, Middle and Jump events he is working towards his Level 3 Athletics Australia Coaching Certification in Sprints and Hurdles. He can be contacted on [email protected] You can find more information on Coaching here

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