Olympic Weightlifter in Tokyo: A Tribute to Artemio Rocamora

Another Filipino sportsman we can be proud of.

After Hidilyn Diaz made history for winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal, much attention has been given not just to previous Filipino athletes who have attempted the same feat, but on the sport of weightlifting itself. Over the weekend, one name popped up on social media that many Filipinos today might not be familiar with but certainly deserves recognition: Artemio Rocamora.

Who is Artemio Rocamora

Rocamora’s granddaughter Shana Rocamora Ramirez posted a touching tribute to her grandfather on Facebook soon after Diaz won her Olympic gold medal. Ramirez says her 87-year-old grandfather (born June 29, 1934) also competed as a weightlifter in the Summer Games in Tokyo in 1964. 

Rocamora, who is a retired member of the Philippine Air Force, had actually won a bronze medal at the Asian Weightlifting Championships according to Ramirez. But the Olympics, of course, is a whole other ballgame. 

A total of 47 Filipino athletes competed at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, in events such as athletics, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, judo, sailing, shooting, swimming, wrestling, and weightlifting. The Philippines won its first silver medal then, courtesy of boxer Anthony Villanueva.


Rocamora, who competed in the light heavyweight event (at or below 82.5 kilos) in weightlifting, ended up placing 19th out of 24 competitors, with a total lift of 390 kilos. The athlete from the then-Soviet Union won the gold medal, lifting 475 kilos. Two Hungarians won the silver and bronze.

Ramirez says her lolo watched Diaz’s gold medal-winning performance at this year’s Games and was reminded of his own journey all those years ago.

Naka-relate sya kasi totoo mahirap humanap ng sponsors,” she said. “Nahirapan daw sya mag-focus noon kasi at the same time, kailangan nyang kumayod para itaguyod ang pamilya.”

Ang masakit na part lang, sana nabigyan din sila ng sapat na suporta at pagkilala noong panahon na binuhat din nila at dinala ang Pilipinas noon,” she added.

Photo by Facebook / Shana Rocamora Ramirez.

Not looking for financial aid

In a comment later in the post, Ramirez clarified that the family is not seeking any financial help from sponsors but only wants recognition for Rocamora. 

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“There's no need to tag people or pages asking them to give my Lolo incentives,” she said. “Madami pong nag-reach out na gustong mag-extend ng help financially pero we refused. Our Papa's being taken good care of and he's living happily. Kasi hindi naman po Pera ang purpose ng pag-post. Na-overwhelm lang kami dahil sobrang proud sya kay Ma'am Hidilyn and nag-start na sya mag-kwento habang nanunuod, lalo na noong naka-relate sya kasi totoo na pahirapan daw talaga humanap ng support financially kada laro.

“Recognition is more than enough for us, at nangyayari na yun dahil po sa inyong lahat kaya maraming salamat po!” she added.

Here’s to you Lolo Artemio!

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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