PHILIPPINE sports found itself in a state of mourning just four days before Christmas.
Track and field legend Mona Sulaiman quietly passed away on Thursday after a long battle with diabetes. She was 75.
Before the advent of Lydia De Vega as Asia's fastest woman in the 80s, Sulaiman, the proud native of Cotabato, was the first to be hailed as Asia's sprint queen following her gold-medal sweep of the 100-meter and 200m events of the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
She actually made it a triple gold during the same event as she was part of the PH team that ruled the 4x100 meter relay run.
Additionally, Sulaiman also bagged the bronze in the women's shotput in the same Asiad in Jakarta.
Sulaiman was likewise an Olympian, having seen action in the 1960 (Rome) and 1964 (Tokyo) Summer Games, but never get to win a medal of any color. She did make as far as the quarterfinals of the century dash though, in the Rome Olympics.
According to national track and field coach Jojo Posadas, the remains of Sulaiman lies in state at the Paradise Funeral Homes in Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William 'Butch' Ramirez said the government sports agency will help Sulaiman's family take care of its financial expenses.
"The PSC will take good care of her hanggang sa mailibing siya," said Ramirez during Friday's PSC board press conference at the Philsports Complex in Pasig. "We would like to take good care of these people who served our country well."
Sulaiman also dabbles into pentathlon and discuss throw, and later on forged a strong friendship with the country’s foremost long jump and heptathlon queen Elma Muros-Posadas.
Despite her achievements, Sulaiman lived a colorful life marred by controversy surrounding her gender.
The issue surrounding it forced Sulaiman not to participate in the 1966 Asian Games following her refusal to undergo a gender test despite being qualified to see action in the quadrennial meet.
Following her retirement from active competition, Sulaiman worked in the private sector and later, served as consultant to the national athletics team upon the hiring of the PSC.
The government agency inducted her to the PSC Hall of Fame on January 2016.