Mona Su­laiman

June 9, 1942

The Freeman - - SPORTS -

This Min­danao-born sprinter placed the Philip­pines on the Asian ath­letic map by her im­pres­sive records as a run­ner. She was de­clared Asia’s fastest woman be­fore Ly­dia de Vega. Here’s some other in­ter­est­ing facts about this leg­endary Pi­nay track­ster.


• Born to Kude­lat and Ami­nan Su­laiman in a small Cota­bato bar­rio in 1942, her ath­letic prow­ess first came to pub­lic no­tice at a sports meet in her school in 1957. She was in the fifth grade and was just fif­teen. An of­fi­cial of the Bureau of Pub­lic Schools at­tended the fes­tiv­i­ties. This was prov­i­den­tial to Mona be­cause when the school of­fi­cial re­turned to the di­vi­sion su­per­in­ten­dent’s of­fice in Cota­bato, he brought with him in­cred­i­ble sto­ries about her speed on the cin­der path. He told the of­fi­cials of Cota­bato about Mona, the bare­foot Mus­lim girl who could out­strip ev­ery run­ning thing in sight. That started off her up­ward climb in the ath­letic world.

• A vet­eran Olympian ( 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo), she is the first Filip­ina to win three golds in a sin­gle Asian Games which took place in Jakarta in 1962.

• She was Asia’s first dou­ble-gold win­ner in sprints; the first na­tional cham­pion in pen­tathlon (1963), five-time na­tional cham­pion in shot put, six-time na­tional cham­pion in the 100m and 200m event, and was a dis­cus throw na­tional cham­pion.

• In the na­tional track and field meet, she proved her prow­ess at the Rizal Memo­rial Sta­dium as she chalked up sev­eral na­tional record-break­ing feats in her two fa­vorite events: 11.9 sec­onds in the 100-meter dash and 2.46 sec­onds in the 100-meter dash. She an­chored her team in the 400x100-meter re­lay as well. She tossed the spher­oid 39.11 feet in the shot put.

• She made it to na­tional qual­i­fiers for the Asian Games in 1966. How­ever, she was barred from com­pet­ing in the event for her re­fusal to un­dergo a sex test af­ter doubts about her gender arose. That con­tro­versy forced her to quit ath­let­ics.

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