VIGAN CITY—Leonelyn Compuesto is just one of the countless young sprinters who fantasize of treading the same path as the legendary Lydia de Vega.
And she’s also one of the handful of young talents who gobbled up golds at the end of this year’s Batang Pinoy national championships.
With five gold medals at the close of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) event on Wednesday, the 15-year-old Compuesto, who hails from Masbate, has been tapped to represent the country in the Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Uzbekistan early next year.
It will be one step nearer to her dream and a great start in following the footsteps of De Vega, the nation’s immortal track hero and Asia’s former sprint queen who passed away this year.
“She’s my idol. They said that I have the potential to be as fast as Lydia de Vega,’’ said Compuesto, who wasn’t even born yet when De Vega made a name for herself in the continental athletics scene in the 80s.
But apart from reaching her dreams, Compuesto, the oldest among five siblings, is bent on pulling her family out of poverty not merely as a national athlete, which comes with monthly allowances and competition bonuses.
“Aside from doing extremely well on the track, I also want to finish my education and help my family,’’ said Compuesto after clinching gold medals in the girls’ 100 meter (13.11 seconds), 200 m (26.64s) and 400 m (1:0.63) and anchoring Masbate Sports Academy to victories in the 4×100 m and 4x400m relays.
Compuesto’s father is a construction worker while her mother is a housewife.
Joining Compuesto in the Asian Youth Athletics Championships as identified by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) here is Bacolod City’s Nico Villaran, who achieved the best clockings in the boys’ 110 m hurdles (15.17s), 200 m (23.18s) and 400 m hurdles (57.72s).
“They have been selected to represent Team Philippines,’’ said Patafa secretary general Edward Kho. They are set to join two other young tracksters that the Patafa will identify for the Uzbekistan meet on April 27, 2023.
“We went here to the Batang Pinoy Games to identify the top performers and the top eight athletes for our mentoring program. They need continuous guidance and encouragement. We will help them become future national athletes,’’ added Kho.
Meanwhile, archer Miguel Carlos collected seven gold medals, making the 12-year-old from Puerto Princesa the most bemedalled athlete of the Games designed to discover the finest athletes in the country 15 years old and below in a variety of sports.
Host Ilocos Sur Gov. Jerry Singson and PSC Chair Noli Eala graced the closing rites at the Quirino Stadium, where Milo handed out special awards to the young athletes.
At the end of this five-day meet serving as the country’s centerpiece grassroots development program, Baguio emerged with the biggest haul at 29 gold, 27 silver and 35 bronze medals. Laguna was second with 18-10-13 and Quezon City third (15-9-13).
Rounding out the top 10 were Lapu-Lapu (14-6-5), General Santos (13-12-10), Pasig City (13-9-9), Iloilo City (12-10-13), Masbate (11-7-6), Lucena (11-7-3) and Davao City (9-13-28).
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