BANTAY—Bicol Region’s Lheslie de Lima bagged the 61st Palarong Pambansa’s first gold medal, ruling the girls’ 3,000 meters in what has become a tradition of sorts in the games—winning with her bare feet.
The scorching heat hardly bothered De Lima, a 13-year-old distant relative of detained Senator Leila de Lima. But she had to work extra hard in topping her event at the President Elpidio Qurino Stadium.
De Lima clocked 10 minutes and 6.54 seconds, barely beating to the gold Northern Mindanao’s Camila Tubiano, who finished in 10:07.07. Western Visayas’s Grace Tejones was a far third with 10:52.99.
“This is for them,” said the incoming Grade 8 student at Baao National High School in Camarines Sur, who dedicated her gold to her farmer father and housewife mother.
One of seven children in the De Lima household, the budding runner finally struck golf after settling for four silver medals as an elementary student in previous games.
The 3,000 meters gold was the first in a total 397 gold medals staked in the Palaro and De Lima vowed to win two more—1,500 meters on Thursday and 800 meters on Friday.
“I will do better. The 1,500m event is my specialty,” she said.
De Lima’s victory, however, was tainted by complaints from Tubiano’s coach, Maricel Avicel, who claimed that technical officials failed to ring the bell in final lap.
“We didn’t hear the bell. There’s something wrong with the officials,” Avicel said. “Of course, I think my runner had that chance to win the gold. But we’ll just wait for our further steps.”
Officials from the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association confirmed that Palaro athletics technical officials are not accredited by the federation are hired by the Department of Education.
Cagayan Valley’s Algin Gomez, meanwhile, leapt to 6.96 meters to pocket the gold medal in secondary boys’ long jump. Mimaropa’s James Meim (6.88m) and Soccsksargen’s Lowell Batobalani (6.78m) completed the podium.
Christian Ompong kicked off defending overall champion National Capital Region campaign by winning the secondary boys javelin throw with a heave of 58.51m. Mimaropa’s John Paul Sarmiento (53.87m) took the silver and Soccsksargen’s Jhon Dave Tumulak (53.66m) settled for the bronze.
Adrian Samudio completed the two gold-medal haul of the Big City in athletics with his 11.46m mark in triple jump.
As of 5:30 p.m., National Capital Region and Cagayan Valley are on the lead in medal tally with two golds apiece, followed by Bicol Region’s lone gold courtesy of De Lima.
Western Visayas had a two-silver, two-bronze haul, while Soccsksargen delivered two bronzes.
On Tuesday, the medal-rich sports of archery and swimming open their events at San Ildefonso Central School and at the Quirino Stadium swimming pool, respectively.