Rodolfo Fernandez, popularly known as Rudy Fernandez and the “Iron Man of Asia” (5 December 1947- 2 January 2022), was a multi-awarded one-legged triathlete from Iloilo. He finished a degree in physical education at the University of Baguio.
He was a former national record-holder in the mile. He was the top bet of the Philippines after winning a silver medal in the 800 meters and a bronze in the 1,500 meters in 1972 Pesta Sukan Games, now known as the Sea Games. He was a member of the national team for running from 1972 to 1976.
He had an amputation at his right leg from above the knee after a grenade explosion in an Iloilo City movie house in 1979. This shattered his dream of competing in the Hong Kong International Athletics Championship that year. It took him some time to get over the trauma. He even attempted to take his life.
In 1986, the Philippine Band of Mercy gave Fernandez a fiber-glass artificial leg. He was inspired by Canadian cancer victim Terry Fox, who is also an amputee who embarked on a Trans-Canada run, to run 104 kilometers from Sara Town to Iloilo City in six days. In 1987, he met his coach and manager Raffy Uytiepo, and embarked on another fundraising run and covered the same route in three days.
In 1996, he swam the Guimaras Strait to Bacolod City. Readers Digest then featured him as “Hero For Today.” He also participated in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon and the Singapore Marathon.
In January 2000, while training for the Sydney Paralympics, Fernandez was hit by a van. His right writs was fractured and he sustained bruises on his face. A fundraising run was held to cover his operation and hospital expenses. Over 1,500 runners including the country’s best athletes such as Onyok and Roel Velasco, Paeng Nepomuceno, Lydia De Vega, Elma Muros, Alvin Patrimonio, and more. Triathletes, cyclists, weightlifters, chess players, and a lot more.
Fernandez was the torchbearer for two multi-sport events: the 2001 Southeast Asian Games and the 2005 Palarong Pambansa.
In 2006, the 58-year-old Fernandez joined the ABSCBN’s Pinoy Big Brother: Celebrity Edition and was referred to as “Tatay Rudy” by his housemates. He was officially evicted from the house on 25 February 2006.
He also participated in the 3rd International Mountain bike Festival in Guimaras in 2008. in 2017, he set a new record of a 24-hour nonstop cycling in Iloilo.
Fernandez was married to a midwife with whom he has three sons. He was a Physical Education teacher at the Western Institute of Technology in Iloilo City.
On 2 January 2022, Fernandez succumbed to stroke at the age of 74.
- Uytiepo, Raffy.“One-legged triathlete- Part One”. The Freeman. (Accessed on 3 February 2022).
- “ILONGGO ‘IRON MAN OF ASIA’ DIES”. Panay News. (Accessed on 3 February 2022).
- Villalon, Kathy M.“Rudy Fernandez: An inspiration to athletes”. The News Today. (Accessed on 3 February 2022).
- “Rody Fernandez, 1 Legged Triathlete Sets New Record Of 24-Hour Non-Stop Cycling In Iloilo”. Philippine News. (Accessed on 3 February 2022).
- “Ilonggo one-legged triathlete joins Pinoy Big Brother”. The News Today. (Accessed on 3 February 2022).
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