THE ‘Miracle of 1991’ had a lot of heroes and one of them was Eric Buhain.
Buhain made the Rizal Memorial Swimming Pool his personal playground during the 1991 Southeast Asian Games when he ruled five events — 100-meter breaststroke, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley, and the 400-meter individual medley.
Buhain’s exploits highlighted the performance of the Philippine contingent in 1991, when the country finished second overall with 91 gold medals.
Before 1991, though, Buhain has been collecting gold medals for the Philippines in the SEA Games.
An athlete who took up the sport upon doctor’s advice to improve the condition of his lungs, Buhain made his SEA Games debut in 1985 when he captured the gold in the 400-meter individual medley.
That count increased to five in 1987 when Buhain wrested four gold medals, taking the top spot in the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, and the 400-meter individual medley.
Buhain claimed two in 1989 when he ruled the 200-meter individual medley and the 400-meter individual medley.
The 1991 SEA Games also proved to be his stepping stone to the Olympics after qualifying for the Philippines in the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Buhain donned the country's color in his final SEA Games in 1993 when he captured the gold in the 100-meter butterfly before announcing his retirement. All in all, Buhain won a total of 13 gold medals for the Philippines.
Buhain later became a sports administrator as chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission and the Games and Amusements Board.