Back-to-back Tour of Luzon cycling marathon champion Cornelio Agaid Padilla Jr. died of heart failure at St. Luke’s Global City Medical Center on Sunday (December 8). He was 67.
Padilla carved a name at the pinnacle of national sports in the 1960’s when he won the grueling Tour of Luzon cycling championship twice in a row, in 1966 and 1967.
His popularity soared during the time that his victories were widely credited to have placed cycling in the national sports consciousness.
In 1966, Padilla topped the 15-lap TOL, clocking 60.45.31 in 1,999.82 kilometers of bicycle race.
The following year, Padilla again emerged on top after eight laps of cycling. He clocked 70.34:57 for the 1,634-kilometer competition.
Known as Paddy to friends and family, Padilla retired early from the sport in order to devote his time to his college studies. His winnings helped him finish a law degree at the Far Eastern University.
As a lawyer, Padilla became a member of the the legal department of Cacho Printing press before his stint at the National Book Store as personnel manager and house lawyer. He worked his way into the corporate ladder to become one of the NBS’s top executives, handling the firm’s vast human resources department.
Padilla also spent much time to humanitarian service by making himself active in Rotary International activities. He was charter member of the Rotary Club of Quirino-Quezon City under RI District 3780, serving as its president from 1994-95.
“He excelled in sports in the same manner he won the hearts of many Rotarians for his unstinting efforts to serve above self,” said former Assistant Governor Fol Rana, former RCQQC president.
The late cycling icon remained loyal to cycling until a heart attack struck while negotiating steep Antipolo mountains on his racer bicycle some 15 years ago.
He survived but decided to give up cycling as part of his exercise regimen. Padilla turned to bowling to become one of the top caliber bowlers of Rotary.
Manila-born Padilla is survived by wife, labor attaché to US Luzviminda Gumatay-Padilla; and children, Jennifer, May, Nathalie and Eli.
His remains lie in state at the Funeraria Paz on Araneta Avenue, Quezon City. Interment will be announced later.
By Marlon Bernardino
Mon, 09 Dec 2013