LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Samantha Gem Limos of Central Visayas stole the spotlight after she was hailed as the fastest female runner in this year's Palarong Pambansa for clinching gold in the secondary girls 100-meter dash with a time of 12.1 seconds.
Even before the furor that Limos created could die down, she added another gold by ruling the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.55 seconds.
The two golds were like early birthday gifts for the student-athlete, who will be turning 14 on April 22.
What makes Limos' achievements even more impressive is that she's just in her second year in the sport. This is also just her second Palarong Pambansa, which means she defeated opponents much older than her.
Asked how she feels being tagged as the fastest girl in the 2016 Palaro, Limos responded: "Nalipay kaayo ko maam, imposible kaayo paminawn. Unexpected jud ni kay di man kano usual nga ang usa ka 13 years old mudaug ani nga event unya ang kontra kay mga dagko na."
(I am so happy, it seems very impossible. This is really unexpected because they say that it is unusual for a 13-year-old to win in this event, especially going up against older opponents.)
Limos initially tried athletics so she could be with her friends. When she started winning, she got hooked.
But what really made her decide to take the sport seriously was the positive reviews she has been receiving, especially after last year's Palarong Pambansa in Tagum, Davao del Norte.
She competed then as one of Central Visayas' elementary athletes. Despite only placing 4th then, her skills shone.
"Ingon sila bata pa kuno ko nya wa pay klarong training pero makadaug na," said Limos.
(They said that I am still young and yet, with no proper training, I win.)
Limos' first competition was in the 2015 Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association Meet in Balamban, Cebu, where she immediately bagged gold as a member of the Cebu City delegation and earned her first ticket to the Palarong Pambansa.
Limos also competed in the Milo Little Olympics Regionals in Iloilo. It was in that competition where she was first declared as the fastest girl – a feat she accomplished despite not wearing spike shoes and not doing any stretching before the race.
"Wa jud ko kabaw unsa ako buhaton sa start, wa ko kabaw unsa rules, wa sad kabaw ako coach. Nag-observe lang kos akong mga kontra nya sunod lang sad ko nila," she shared.
(I didn't really know what to do at the start of the competition. I did not know what the rules were, my coach also did not know. I just observed my opponents and followed their lead.)
She qualified for the 2016 Palaro by clinching silver in the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association Meet, even though she was unable to train for two weeks as she had fever due to mumps.
Last November, she also put on a record-breaking performance at the Batang Pinoy National Finals.
Up next – the global stage. The 5-foot-2 tall trackster will be seeing action in the 6th Children of Asia International Sports Games in Yakutsk, Russia this July – her first international competition.
Limos does not only excel in sports – she's also an achiever in academics. She's currently second overall in the 7th grade at the University of Cebu (UC).
Asked how she balances her training and studies, Limos said, "magtoon human ug training, siguruhon sad nako nga maminaw sad ko sa klase."
(I study every after training session and I make sure to always listen during classes.)
Limos had planned to enroll at the Cebu City National Science High School for her secondary education, but decided to accept UC's offer because she wanted to have proper training as a sprinter.
Despite her achievements, Limos is not thinking of joining the national team. She said she would rather continue improving her skills and earning scholarships so she can help her parents.
"'Di na sila maburden sa gastos, malibre na akong pag-eskwela," she said.
(They won't be burdened with my school expenses. I will be able to study for free.) – Rappler.com
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