By MARIANNE L. SABERON-ABALAYAN
FOR the first time in many years, the Davao Region Athletic Association (Davraa) stole the spotlight, thanks to Mea Gey Alialiaah Niñura who bagged the first gold medal and smashed the 2015 secondary girls 3,000-meter (3,000m) run record at the start of the 2016 Palarong Pambansa athletics competition at the sprawling Bicol University Sports and Tourism Complex in Legazpi City Monday.
Niñura, 16, registered a new record of 10 minutes and 03.4 seconds to clinch the gold, erasing the 10:10.16 mark that Northern Mindanao's Jieanne Calis (10:10.16) made in 2015 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.
Calis, for her part, settled for silver as she also set a new personal best of 10:07.8 while fellow Northern Mindanao runner Camila Tubiano who timed 10:45 salvaged the bronze.
Niñura, daughter of Eustqui, a farmer, and Evelyn, a housewife, said she's happy with her back-to-back feat although she didn't expect it at all.
"Dako akong pagsalig sa akong kaugalingon kay nag-training man pod ko pero akong gina-focus lang kay maka-survive lang sa dula (I have confidence in myself because I trained hard for this but I really focused on surviving the race)," said the Kapatagan National High School Grade 10 student in a phone interview with Sun.Star Superbalita Davao Monday.
She was set to see action in the 800m time trials as Monday, April 11. Should she book a finals berth, Niñura will compete for the gold on Friday. But she will test her mettle on Thursday in the secondary girls 1,500m run.
Assistant coach Maylene Quimque, in a separate phone interview, said: "We are thankful and grateful for this great achievement for our region. Namunga gyud ang intensive training (Our intensive training at last bore fruit)."
Zanjo Angelo Questo was head coach.
Meanwhile, Davraa's Marjoe Icbalic clinched a silver in secondary boys javelin throw. He made a distance of 55.45 meters while Ronald Lacson of Northern Mindanao pocketed the gold with 55.81 meters. Mimaropa's Noel Balutan (51.4m) got the bronze.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 12, 2016.