Mendoza: Garcia: Paddy was my rival and my idol

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Monday, December 9, 2013


MAT Defensor broke the news on Monday.

“Paddy dies,” came the text-message of Mat, the former representative of Quezon City.

To the sporting world, Paddy was Cornelio Padilla Jr., a legend in cycling.

When Paddy retired after practically winning all the cycling awards to be won—both in the country and in Asian bikathon events—he joined Mat to stage several of the nation’s top bicycle marathons from the ‘70s to the ’80s.

It was under the watch of Mat, the cycling president then, and Paddy, Mat’s chief point man, that many cyclists blossomed into virtual legends themselves, among them Paquito Rivas, Rumin Salamante, Romeo Bonzo, Ruben Carino, Rolando Pagnanawon,
Armando Catalan, Gerardo Igos and Renato Dolosa.

But before he became a topnotch bikathon organizer together with Mat, Paddy was once one of the country’s greatest cyclists, ranked alongside the likes of Antonio Arzala, Rolando Abaquita, Jose Moring Jr., Elpidio Camat, Edmundo de Guzman, Gonzalo Recodos, Teodorico Rimarim, Samson Etrata, Modesto Bonzo, Jacinto Sicam, Jose Sumalde, Manuel Reynante and, of course, Jesus Garcia Jr.—legends all.

“Despite the fact that he was my arch-rival during our time, Paddy was my idol and I consider him one of the greatest cyclists this troubled nation has ever produced,” said Garcia, called the Biking Jess.

Garcia, still going strong in his late sixties who is now based in his beloved hometown of Mangaldan, Pangasina, after living for years in Guam, is also known as Singing Jess who composed and recorded “Buhay Siklista,” now the national anthem of cyclists all across the archipelago.

In one of Paddy’s unforgettable feats, he was the lone Asian rider in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics road race who stuck it out with the first group that included what Garcia called “the dreaded European riders.” Mario Zanin of Italy won the gold, but not after Paddy gave him and his fellow Europeans a run for their money.

Paddy would proceed to win the fabled Tour of Luzon back-to-back in 1966-1967, reprising the feat scored by Sumalde in 1964-1965.

In our Hall of Fame, Paddy, a lawyer, ranks high up there.

(alsol47@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 10, 2013.

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