BAGUIO

No stopping 67-year-old javelin thrower from competing

BAGUIO. After winning four gold medals in the Singapore Masters Athletics' 40th Anniversary Track and Field tourney at Bokit Gombak Stadium on May 2-4, Erlinda Lavandia is still looking forward to competing at 67. (SunStar Baguio File)

ERLINDA Lavandia, a former Gintong Alay stalwart and Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) javelin queen, remains eager to continue competing even at the age of 67.

"Gusto kong lumaban habang kaya pa. Pero gusto kong umabot sa 80 o' mahigit pa na sasali sa mga kumpetisyong pampalakasan," said Lavandia, a retired cop.

Lavandia grabbed headlines anew after scooping four gold medals in the Singapore Masters Athletics' 40th Anniversary Track and Field tourney at Bokit Gombak Stadium on May 2-4.

Lavandia competed in the women's 65-above category where she ruled her pet javelin throw event with 25.65 meters distance right on her first attempt to handily beat Indonesian Julia Jacob (14.15m), and Sri Lankan pair J.A. Jasmin (12.66m) and E.N.L. Jayanthi (10.45m).

Lavandia also came out with golden performance in the discus, shot put and hammer competitions, feats that cemented her status as the queen of throwing events.

She submitted an 18.99-m in discuss throw to beat Sri Lankan Jasmin (15.38m) and Indonesia Jacob (12.70m), then completed her romp with a 7.25m heave in shot put at the expense of Jacob (5.35m) and finally, the hammer with 20.81m toss.

"I would like to emulate an 80 something pole vaulter and a 70+ runner competing in hurdles," said Lavandia, who claimed the P120,000 incentives given to her by Baguio City.

"If they can do it, why can't I," added the first of the Gintong Alay athletes who moved to Baguio in 1979 to train under the sports program of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

Lavandia was referring to 84-year-old pole vaulter Flo Meiler, who travels around the world just to compete in Masters where she won and even broke world records.

"Kaya ensayo lang, at lalo na sa mga Masters events," said Lavandia, who won gold in javelin in the 1977, 1979, 1981 and 1985 SEAG. She took the silver in 1983 edition.

Lavandia was already with the defunct Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police in 1977 when she was reassigned in Baguio for further training.

"I loved it here and I never left even after the Gintong Alay program was scrapped (in 1986)," she said.

With every medal she won in the SEAG, the corporal first class was promoted a rank higher until her retirement in 2008 when she achieved the rank of Police Chief Inspector, now a police major.

"I also had successes as a cop, not just in sport and trained also in traffic management," added Lavandia.

She looks forward to meeting again her fellow sports legends like Lydia de Vega, Guido del Prado, Elma Muros, Eric Buhain, and Hector Begeo in a reunion of Gintong Alay athletes set to be held in November this year.

Lavandia is expected to compete again, this time at the (javelin) world masters athletics in Canada this year.

"I played in all the throwing events only in the Southeast Asia region, but not in the Asian or World competitions," she added. (PNA)


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