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Jaime Grafilo

Jaime Grafilo

As a 17-year-old schoolboy 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 not 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.


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 silver in the 200m with a time of 22.03.

The Highlight and famous part of Grafilo career was his surprise win over the highly 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 run 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. 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

Unique Ability

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 a gold medal in disbelief in the Gintong Alay coaster to the UL quarters. From Ignacio Dee.


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

Jaime Grafilo

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. And two years later in 1985 Singapore SEA Games Grafilo, faded to a miserable sixth place in 56.01. And 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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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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