SINGAPORE – At the tender age of 17, Kyla Richardson already put herself in great company after winning the century dash of the 28th Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday night.
By becoming the fastest woman of the biennial meet, Richardson broke a 20-year drought for the country in the women’s 100-m event which Filipina sprinters used to dominate in the past.
The last time a Filipina won athletics’ centerpiece event came in the 1995 edition of the Games in Chiang Mai when Elma Muros won three gold medals in the 100 meters. 200-m run and the long jump.
Lydia De Vega, formerly Asia’s sprint queen, also won a gold medal in the century dash during the 1987 in Kuala Lumpur Games.
Incidentally, 'Diay' is now based in this city state, teaching and training young high school runners.
“I’m speechless. I’m just happy to represent the country well,” said Richardson, whose mother Kieyama, is a Filipina who traces her roots to Zamboanga.
Kayla has a twin sister Kyla, who is a minute older.
Richardson said it was her parents who encouraged her to compete and represent the Philippines in international meets.
“My parents and my grandparents have been telling us that if we represent the Philippines, they’ll be appreciative of it,” said Richardson.
Prior to the Games, expectations were high for Richardson after it was reported in an athletics blog that she clocked 11.65 seconds in a junior meet in Los Angeles. She won the gold in 11.76 seconds.
The time of course, was more than good enough to win the gold in biennial meet.
But Richardson said she just entered the race to have fun, careful not to put pressure on herself.
“I wasn’t expecting. I was just hoping (for a gold). Nothing is guaranteed, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I just want to come out here and have fun,” said Richardson.