BANTAY, Ilocos Sur — Lheslie De Lima of Bicol Region won the 2018 Palarong Pambansa’s first gold medal, running on barefoot to top the 3,000-meter secondary girls athletics competition at the President Elpidio Quirino Stadium.
The 13-year-old De Lima joins a long list of barefoot runners who became champions in the Palaro, but it is not out of necessity as De Lima insisted she prefers competing without shoes, even though she sometimes wears shoes in training.
”Gusto ko po,” said the 13-year-old Baao National High School student from San Juan, Camarines Sur. “Hindi po kami nagsa-sapatos. Minsan po sa training, nag-sasapatos, minsan naka-paa.”
De Lima, in her debut run in the secondary division, submitted a time of 10 minutes and 6.54 seconds, winning over Camila Tubiano of Northern Mindanao and Grace Tejones of Western Visayas.
It is also De Lima’s first gold in the Palarong Pambansa in three years, after competing twice in the elementary division.
The incoming Grade 8 student, the fifth among seven siblings, was edged out Tubiano in the final 100 meters, after some confusion as race officials were unable to ring the bell that should have been the signal for the last lap.
Nevertheless, De Lima pulled away from Tubiano to check in at first place a second ahead.
“Sumobra po (lap),” said De Lima, who plans to be a teacher and athletics coach.
De Lima is also entered in the 800m and the 1,500m events.