‘Yolanda’ survivor captures two golds in Batang Pinoy finals
BACOLOD CITY—Karen Janario, a survivor of super typhoon “Yolanda,” scored an emotional double victory on the track even as hometown bet Alexis Soqueno smashed the high jump record in capturing two golds of his own in the Batang Pinoy national finals here Wednesday.
Standing out in a crowd with her Bob Marley-style hair, the Filipino-American Janario, 14, had the entire Panaad Park and Stadium rooting for her as she dashed to victory in the girls 100-meter and then scored another gold an hour later in the 100m hurdles.
Janario is one of the 31 young athletes rescued by the Philippine Sports Commission after their Leyte Sports Academy campus was crushed to the ground by the Nov. 8 typhoon and storm surge. They have been staying at Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and trained with national athletes.
“I’m very happy to have given my city a reason to smile,” said the 5-foot-6 Janario, who hails from the badly hit town of Palo. She was reluctant to talk about her home but said her family at least “has food to eat.”
PSC chair Richie Garcia described her as “the discovery” in the meet for 15-years old and below. Janario has a total of four golds in the event and will be competing in 200m and two relays in the next few days.
She finished 16.46 seconds in hurdles and 12.71 seconds in the century dash which were slower than her personal best of 15.4 and 12.4, respectively. But her back story was enough to earn her adulation even from other teams.
TV crews and media swarmed on her soon after her second gold, making her an instant star in the meet. An only child, Janario’s father Kenneth Jackson is based in the US, while her Filipino mother Hilda Janario lives with her in Manila.
Almost overshadowed was the superb performance of 15-year-old Soqueno, who cleared the height of 1.93 meters to set a new meet record in the morning before ruling the boys 110m hurdles in the afternoon.
Residing in Bacolod City but competing for Negros Occidental, Soqueno erased the 1.80m mark by Resty Lorenzo of Manila during the 2012 Luzon leg held in Marikina.
“I was tired already, and it’s getting hot, but I’m still very happy with my performance,” said the slender, 5-foot-8 Soqueno, who placed 8th during the 2012 national finals in Iloilo City.
Soqueno tried to match his personal best of 1.95, clearing the bar from head to thighs but thrice failed to kick his legs in time and got caught in the bar.