The Freeman

Mona Sulaiman

June 9, 1942


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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