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Masbate lass finds path out of poverty

Young track talent Leonelyn Compuesto of Masbate once dreamed of making it big as a volleyball player.

However, the promising runner quickly realized that she is not cut for the sport and accepted her limitations.
Instead, she shifted her focus to the track oval.

“I was training with our volleyball team back when I was in elementary. An athletics coach saw me and said I have potential in athletics because of my speed. I then backed out from volleyball and joined our athletics team,” said Compuesto, who collected five gold medals in the recently concluded Philippine Sports Commission-Batang Pinoy National Championships held in Ilocos Sur.

The 15-year-old Masbate Sports Academy Grade 10 student thought that she could find more success running on the oval than inside the volleyball court.

Compuesto made the right decision as she collected medals in different competitions including two mints in Palarong Pambansa in Davao back in 2019.

“I felt that athletics is the right sport for me. After all, I look up to (former Asia’s sprint queen) Lydia de Vega as my sports idol,” Compuesto said.

“I’m a bit small for volleyball so I decided to instead compete in athletics. Besides in athletics if you lose in one event you can still compete and win in other events.”

The daughter of a construction worker and eldest of five siblings lorded over the competition in the return of Batang Pinoy after a three-year pandemic hiatus.

Compuesto emerged as Masbate’s prized athlete with golden finishes in girls’ century dash, 200m and 400m runs and the 4x100m and 4x400m relays.

Her performance in the grassroots sports meet for in and out-of-school athletes aged 15 and below even earned her consideration to the national team that will see action in the Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in April 2023.

Now with a bright future in athletics ahead of her, Compuesto wants to take advantage of the golden opportunity of using the sport she loves as a ticket out of poverty.

She hopes that through running she could get a chance to study in college and finish an education degree.

“I’m not looking at a particular school. I just want to get a college education through a sports scholarship and hopefully realize my dream of getting a degree so that I can help my family and give them a good life.”

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