Athletics legend Mona Sulaiman dead at 75
Joey Villar ( - December 22, 2017 - 6:45am

MANILA, Philippines – Mona Sulaiman, one of the country’s athletic greats, has passed away.

Sulaiman died Thursday night at a quiet, dimly lit room of the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City, leaving a legacy of triumphs and Asian sprint supremacy that was cut short by unfair questions about her sexuality.

She was 75.

Before the likes of Lydia de Vega and Elma Muros-Posadas came, Sulaiman was once the country’s brightest star having snared three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and relay and a bronze in shot put in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games while representing the country in the 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where she made the quarterfinals of the 100m.

She was inducted into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame last year.

Sulaiman came from a humble beginning in Cotabato and even competed barefoot in local and regional meets.

And then questions about her gender came.

While she was overly qualified to compete in the 1966 Asiad, she ended up deciding to opt out in joining the national team seeing action in the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand when questions about her sexuality were raised.

It abruptly cut short what would have been a promising career as Sulaiman decided to go into the private sector and, in the 90s, accepted a consultancy job with the national track team upon the recommendation of Muros-Posadas.

There was no denying though she served the country well.

Two days before she passed away, Sulaiman was said to have been wanting to personally thank people who came to help her along the way like Muros-Posadas, Philippines Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez and former athletics chief Go Teng Kok.

She didn’t get the chance.

“Two days before Mona (Sulaiman) died, her niece (Mary Jane Neri) texted me and told me she’s looking for people who helped her along the way including Elma,” said national team coach Jojo Posadas, husband of Elma Muros-Posadas, in Filipino.

“But Elma was out-of-town with the Philippine Sports Institute people and couldn’t go although she would have wanted to go,” he added.

Sulaiman’s body lies in state at the Paradise Funeral in Juan Luna St., Gagalangin, Tondo.

As of posting time, no schedule has been announced for interment.

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