[Editor's Note: SPIN.ph continues its countdown to the 2019 Southeast Asian Games with a rundown of the greatest feats by Philippine athletes in the biennial event. Here's the third of a 10-part series]
JOHN Baylon ran up a streak in the Southeast Asian Games that no athlete will likely match, much less surpass, anytime soon.
The Filipino judoka was so dominant in the mat in the SEA Games that he won nine straight gold medals beginning in 1991 when Manila hosted the biennial conclave.
Baylon was also a two-time Olympian, having qualified for the 1988 and 1992 Games. But his biggest performances came in the SEA Games, where he was king in the -81kg division for two decades with the exception of 1999 when the sport was not held in Brunei Darussalam.
Even Father Time couldn't slow down Baylon as he won gold in front of home fans in 2005 at age 40. He would continue to rack up gold medals in judo until in 2011 when Baylon was finally stopped short of the gold by To Hai Long of Vietnam. By then, Baylon was 46, double To’s age of 24.
Baylon retired from judo shortly after his reign in the SEA Games ended. His competitive juices, however, didn’t wane as Baylon soon shifted to ju-jitsu where he also won medals for the Philippines in international competitions.
Many judokas have won medals for the Philippines in the SEA Games. Baylon, however, is one of a kind.