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2018 PALARONG PAMBANSA: Barefoot CamSur running teener is first gold medalist

By Frank Cimatu ILOCOS SUR --- Moments after garnering the first-ever gold medal of the 2018 Palarong Pambansa in the 3,000m, 13-year-old Lheslie N. de Lima decided to take a nap. Amid her co-athletes at the Bicol Region Athletic Association, she just lied on the bleachers of the Quirino Stadium with a towel covering her face and took a nap for an hour. In a few hours, she would be participating in the individual trials for 800 m. Later, she would be running the 1,500 meters. Owing to her auspicious performance, De Lima is the favorite in the two later events. Rolando Merencillo, her coach, said that he saw her potential two years ago when she was in Grade V. De Lima participated in the 2016 Palaro but did not bring home any medals. But in Antique last year, De Lima won silver in the 800 meters, 400 meters and 1,500 meters. This was her first time in the 3,000 meters. De Lima clocked 10:06.54; narrowly beating Camila Tubiano of Region X who took 10:07.07. Grace Tejones of Region V was a far third at 10:52.9. De Lima ran on the hot Tartan track barefooted. “We tried to make her wear spikes but she didn’t want to,” said Merencillo. “Mabigat po,” (The shoes are heavy) the Grade VII student of Baao National High School said. De Lima is the 5th child of seven children. Her father is a farmer in Baao, Camarines Sur while her mother is a homemaker. Her lolo told her that Sen. Leila de Lima is a close relative. “Sabihin ‘nyo, para sa kanya ito. (Tell auntie, this is for her),” Lheslie said, hiding her laugh. –

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