Iloilo’s famed one-legged triathlete dies

Published January 3, 2022, 8:30 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY — Rodolfo “Rudy” Fernandez, Iloilo’s famed one-legged triathlete, has died.

The bemedalled athlete who hailed from Ajuy town, Iloilo province succumbed to stroke Sunday, January 2, 2022. He was 74.

Fernandez was at the height of his running career when he lost his right leg. He was among the survivors of the July 1978 grenade attack at Alegro Theater in Iloilo City. The grenade attack also killed his then 16-year-old brother-in-law, who sat next to him at the movie theater.

Rodolfo “Rudy” Fernandez, Iloilo’s famed one-legged triathlete. (Courtesy of Nereo Lujan/Manila Bulletin)

Despite having his leg amputated and he had to wear prosthetics, Fernandez continued with his athletic career. He won numerous medals in national and international running, swimming and cycling competitions.

Fernandez also had several athletic projects that were for a cause including endurance runs for the Philippine Band of Mercy and other institutions.

In May 1995, he swam the three-kilometer body of water separating Iloilo City and the island province of Guimaras to raise funds for the Philippine Red Cross. Two months later, he also swam 28-kilometers along the Guimaras Strait to raise funds for the Association of Disabled Persons.

In 1996, Reader’s Digest dubbed him as “Heroes of Today” when he was featured by Nereo Lujan.

Fernandez also reentered the limelight in the mid 2000s when he became a housemate in the reality show Pinoy Big Brother, which then aired over ABS-CBN.

Before his death and before the pandemic, Fernandez was still a fixture in Iloilo and still seen joining bike rides all over.