First Published November 21, 2017
One of the greatest sprinters and most tragic deaths in Philippine Track and Field came from the 1970s star Tokal Mokalam. Born 15 June 1949. Mokalam placed third at the national open, then 17, in the 200m in 22.6. He finished behind veterans Arnulfo Valles 21.9 and Rogelio Onofre 22.0 already in their late 20s.
At the 1970 national open in Dumaguete City, he got third in the 100 in 11.2 and second in the 200 in 22.5. Mokalam first came to prominence with a run of 10.4 and 21.6 in 1970 in Marikina. He succeeded the aging Rogelio Onofre as the country’s fastest man, 31 years old by this stage. He also combined William Mordeno, Usop Pathok, and Arnulfo Valles to clock 41.0 in the 4×100.
At the Bangkok Asian Games, Tokal Mokalam participated in the 4×100, placing 7th in 41.7. In 1971 at the Singapore Open, he clocked 10.9 in the semi-finals but was upstaged by a 32-year-old. Veteran Onofre, who was third in the Finals in 10.8, Mokalam timed 11.0 for fourth place.
Tokal Mokalam ran 21.8 in the semis of the 200. In the finals, he was 5th in 21.9. They were second in the relay in 41.7. At the 1971 Malaysian Open in Trengganu, he was 3rd in the 100 and 200 in 10.6 and 21.8.
In 1972 Mokalam clocked what would tie the Filipino Record of Onofre with a clocking of 10.3. He also clocked a then Filipino record of 21.3. His electronic times at overseas meets, such as the Munich Olympics, didn’t reflect as he ran 11.02 and 21.81. Well, behind his hand, time clocking s locally; maybe it was due to nerves or inaccurate timing.
In contrast, 1973 was an even more successful year; he went on run 10.2 in Heat 2 of 5 of the Asian Championships in Marikina, placing 2nd, which surpassed the Filipino record of Onofre except Onofre’s adjusted record was 10.57.
Surprisingly they were very fast heats, with Thailand’s Anat Ratanapol breaking the Asian Games record and his own personal best-winning Heat 4 of 5 in 10.0. This tied the Asian Record. His previous best was 10.1 in Cologne, Germany, in June of 1972. It was only .1 outside the world record. Suwen Ho of Taipei was second in that heat.
However, later and later, the marks in the heats were swift due to wind assistance and not counted as records.
In the 100m Semi-Finals, both Aquilino Onofre (younger brother of Rogelio) 10.7 and Mokalam 10.9 failed to advance.
He clocked 21.4 in the heats to place 2nd. In the Finals, Mokalam got the bronze behind Anat Ratanpol of Thailand 21.0 and Soo-Wen Hoo of Taipei 21.2.
In addition, in July 1974, at the Taipei Open, Mokalam’s form began to fade as a younger local runner outclassed him. Anat Ratapol won in 10.4, Su-Wen Ho of Taipei came second in 10.6, and South Korea Oh Sei Jim and surprisingly third was Mario Tabuno. 22-year-old Tabuno, who had come to prominence by winning the National University Games in 10.6, came in third equal in 10.7. Mokalam could only manage fourth in 10.8.
In the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran, Iran. Mokalam won semi-final 2 in 21.64 but was slower than semi-final 1. He made the final and came 7th in 21.93. Ratanapol of Thailand again won in 21.09.
In addition, Mokalam was also part of a record-breaking 4×100 team that clocked 40.5 and held that mark until the 1980s.
However, Mokalam met a tragic end on March 1, 1975, when he fell from the stairs at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex tower dormitory. He was 25 years old.
Information Contributed by:
Roger Loong, Ignacio Dee, Magno Santos Jr., and Lucila Salao.
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