First Published July 10, 2013
I would like to share with the athletic community another great tale of one of our countries legendary female sprinters. Contributed by various sources including Mr. Ignacio Dee.
Inocencia Solis – First Great Filipina Sprint Champion
The Philippines has a strong history of Women Sprint Champions at Asian Level. The last one was Lydia De Vega, Amelita Alanes, and before her Mona Sulaiman. But before all of these names, the legacy started with a 5’2 farmer’s daughter from Iloilo, perhaps a forgotten name with the passing of time.
For the whole decade of the 1950s, Solis was the primary dominant sprinter in the Philippines before the emergence of Mona Sulaiman in 1960. Hence Solis would continue to be competitive at the National level until 1965.
Born of Innocence Day (Dec 28) in 1932, to farmer parents Victorio Solis and former Leonarda Silomenio in the sleepy village of Bolalacao in the central Iloilo town of New Lucena. Her running days started at the New Lucena Elementary School where she shone in several athletic competitions. Also, she won top honors as a student at Santa Barbara High School.
In 1950 she won three gold medals at the National Inter-Scholastic Athletic Association Meet (NISSA) (these meets were the forerunner to the Palarong Pambansa which started in 1975).
While at this meet she established National Records in the 100,200 and Long Jump. Also in 1953, she was the PRISAA (Pampanga) and National Champion.
She continually held and improved on the National Record in the 100m up until 1962. In 1962 it was broken by Mona Sulaiman. The 200m until 1960 and the Long Jump for 7 years according to Rex Salvilla chair of the Western Visayas Historical Foundation.
Seeing her potentials, the Cebu Institute of Technology offered her full scholarship. She was coached by Fructosa Soriano. She went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She worked as a school teacher and at the same time as an athletic coach in Cebu for some time until the city government of Caloocan recruited her in the early 1960s.
In 1954 at the 2nd Asian Games in Manila, Solis won the bronze medal in 26.5s (26.2 national records in heats), she would team up with Rogelia Ferrer, Manolito Cinco, and Roberta Anore to win another bronze in the women’s 4×100 (50.4s).
Asian Games Champion
In 1958 Solis became a household name when she won the Asian Games 100m gold medal in 12.5s, in front of two Japanese runners in Tokyo and was named athlete of the year. She would team up with Ferrer, Irene Penuela and Francisca Sanopol to take the silver medal this time in the 4×100 (49.0s).
By 1962 she would win another gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta this time in the 4x100m (48.6s) teaming with Sulaiman, Aida Molinos, and Sanopol.
It took the government 40 years to again bestow another honor upon her — the Distinguished Filipino Woman Achiever in Sports award, which was given by then-President Ramos during the Philippine Centennial Celebration.
Solis died of severe diabetes at the age of 69 at the Iloilo Mission Hospital on November 4, 2001. Her passing was tragic because the honors that she gave to the country were never reciprocated in terms of government support. She died poor.
.List of Performances by Inocencia Solis (awaiting on data)
- 1950 National School Champion 100,200, Long Jump (National Records)
- 1953 PRISAA and National Champion
- 1954 Asian Games (Bronze) 26.5 200m 26.2s (heats) (National Record) Asian Games (Bronze) 4x100m (50.4s)
- 1958 Asian Games (Gold) 100m 12.5s Asian Games (Silver) 4x100m (49.0s)
- 1958 PSA Sports Athlete of the Year
- 1959 25.3s (Asian Record)
- 1961 Malacca International Athletic Meet 100m – 2nd 12.5s, 200m 2nd
- 1962 Asian Games (Gold) 4x100m (48.6s)
- 100m – 12.4s
- 200m – 26.8s