Jorge Ledesma (1940 – 2010)

My college training buddy Carlo Ricohermoso told me the sad news: Jorge Ledesma (GS’53 HS’57 Col’61) passed away last 18 August 2010. Aside from a casual chat back in the 2005 Track & Field alumni homecoming and occasional exchanges of text messages the past few months, the Jorge Ledesma I knew came straight out of the mildewed Guidon pages – a larger-than-life herculean figure.

Jorge at the 2005 Track & Field Alumni Homecoming

Jorge was at the forefront of a vaunted champion track & field team. From 1959 to 1961, Jorge lowered his personal best in the sprint hurdles from 16.6s to 16.0s – that was a massive improvement of six hundredths of a second. In the run-up to the General Championship Meet in 1961 (track competition consisted of  a series of dual meets and the general championships, where teams earn points), Ledesma was undefeated in his best event. The lanky 5’10 collegian also competed in the high jump, the low hurdles and the 4x400m relay. He was also elected as the Student Council secretary.


Jorge in action (Photos from the Guidon)

In 1961, the Flying “A” squad demolished the competition, gifting the Alma Mater with its first championship trophy since 1940. The Blue Cindermen tallied a total of 191 points, more than three times the 58-points scored by the second-placer. Jorge won a golden double, topping both hurdle races in stellar fashion. He also added a silver in the 4x400m relay.

1961 NCAA Track & Field Champions, a Guidon feature on Jorge (from the Guidon)

Since Jorge competed in the hurdles too, it was only natural that the current crop of hurdlers gravitate to his feats as well. Back then, I was a college sophomore struggling under the weight of top notch senior competition. My training partner Carlo was a lot better off, having qualified for the 110m high hurdles final twice. I can still remember the first time I saw those old Guidon clippings on my teammate’s desk.

Carlo was the closest to Jorge. ( Photos from Carlo Ricohermoso)

Seeing those widely grinning young men lift a massive trophy was surreal. During UAAP 66, the Men’s Track & Field team finished at the bottom of the heap, with only one gold medal to its credit. We were hard-pressed to even qualify for the finals and score a point. Such a feat is a minor achievement in itself since hardly anyone had won a college medal. A trophy, much less a championship trophy, was nothing more than a pipe dream.

And yet, men who once walked the same grounds, who once eagerly sat through classes at the same rooms, once competed with distinction for the Blue and White.

Jorge had a personal best 15.9s in the sprint hurdles. Compared to my then-PB of 17.46s (ET)  and Carlo’s 16.6 (ET) and 15.9 (HT), Jorge’s best performance on the old cinder tracks of Rizal was more than impressive. If Ledesma, Carlo and my 2005 self were to compete against each other, I would have been left in Jorge’s wake. And I’d bet my bottom Peso that Jorge would edge out Ricohermoso in a photo-finish, just because of the former’s sprinting background.

Throughout the rest of my college days, as the track team climbed to a first-ever UAAP podium finish, I never forgot about the heroes of the past, most especially Jorge Ledesma.

Through SMS, I updated Jorge about the  Men’s Team’s quest for a championship and Mike Mendoza’s three-peat sprint hurdle golds.  As a cancer survivor, Jorge’s text messages were full of hope – full of trust in the Lord. During Holy Week, I received a greeting from Jorge himself. B

ack in March 2010, Carlo and I talked about visiting the Hall of Fame hurdler in Dasmarinas, Cavite, in light of Jorge’s failing health. I would have loved to have a decent conversation with the champion hurdler, to talk about his past exploits and the how he lived the rest of his life after the end of his track days. Sadly, the plans did not push through.

I never knew Jorge up close, but I can say in all honesty that he made a lasting impact.

From a hurdler to another hurdler, farewell.

Jorge Alfonso “George” Salvador Ledesma (1940 – 2010)

Photo credits:

University Archives

The Guidon

Carlo Ricohermoso

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3 responses to “Jorge Ledesma (1940 – 2010)

  1. Pingback: Forward « hurdler49: Hurdling the Real World.

  2. Pingback: “The Thrill of the Fight” « hurdler49: Hurdling the Real World.

  3. Pingback: The Finish Line (25 July 2005) « Hurdler49: Hurdling the Real World

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