Amelita Alanes our #3 Great Women Sprinter

Amelita Alanes

First Published July 10, 2013, by Andrew Pirie


The Philippines had a vibrant tradition of Asian Women Sprint Champions, starting with Inocencia Solis in the 50s and then Mona Sulaiman in the 60s. After Sulaiman, some time passed. A stocky teenager born in La Carlota, Negros Occidental, on February 28, 1952, emerged to become the countries next Sprint Queen.

Sulaiman, whose career ended in controversy in the late 60s departure left a huge gap in women’s sprinting. Alanes was the most dominant female sprinter of the 1970s. And held all three sprint records during that time.

A much more compact sprinter than the muscular Sulaiman at 5’2 and 50kg, she had a similar build to Solis.


Amelita Alanes ASIAN GAMES 1970

Alanes recorded a time of 11.9 seconds in the heats. At the time, it was a Filipino Junior Record for two years until it was broken by Lucila Salao (11.6 secs).  However, in the finals, Alanes could only manage fourth in a time of 12.4 seconds.

The Asian Record Holder Chi Cheng won the race in 11.6 seconds. With the absence of the World Record Holder (Chi Cheng of Taipei), who pulled her thigh muscle in the heats. The final was very open; 18-year-old Alanes came off the bend with a useful lead. But the 17-year-old Keiko Yamada of Japan overhauled the Filipina in the straight and took the gold medal In a much closer race than the recorded times suggested of 25.0 and 25.2. 

Alanes 200m time stood as the Philippine Junior Record for eleven years when 17-year-old Lydia De Vega shattered it in 1981 with a record of 23.54 that has stood for 31 years now.

They also finished fifth and last in the 4x100m relay with S. Ordoyo, A. Bustamante, L. Salao.

History repeats itself sometimes. Amelita Alanes  (left) and 2014 Palarong Pambansa 100m Champion and fellow Ilongo Mary Anthony Diesto  (right) both from Negros.


Amelita Alanes 1972-1974

At the National Games in Davao, in what was a quick but classed as an invalid performance, Alanes won the National title in 23.6 seconds, from Aida Montawell 24.1 seconds. Reasons are not known; Col. Constantino noted that this performance was doubtful.

At Marikina, Alanes took the Filipino Women’s Record to 56.4, which she held until 1981. So for most of the seventies, she held all three sprint records.

At the age of 20, Alanes at the Munich Olympics, Alanes ran the 100,200 and 4x100m. Her relay teammates were Aida Mantawell, Lucila Salao, and Carmen Torres. They were disqualified and did not advance.  This would be her only Olympic Games. Alanes timed 12.37et and was eliminated in the heats of the 100m. However, in the 200m, she timed 25.28et in the heats placing fourth. And advanced to the quarter-finals running 24.98et, where she was eliminated.


Amelita Alanes Asian Champion

In 1973 Alanes won the gold medal at the Asian Track and Field Championships in Manila. Winning in a time of 11.6 seconds (wind-aided). She timed 25.0 seconds in the 200m to win the silver medal. Alanes had clocked a windy 24.0 and 24.4 in the pre-rounds?

Alanes’ clocked her best time of 11.4 at the National Games in Marikina in 1974. And at that time, the national record took De Vega until 1985 to eclipse (11.53) and eventually better to the current mark of 11.28 by 1987.


1974 Asian Games

Alanes after winning the slower of 2 heats in 12.55. I was unlucky to finish 4th behind Esther Rot of Israel. (Yes, before Israel was part of the Asian Championships before joining European Athletics).  She missed out on the bronze by .01 from Keiko Yamada of Japan, who she had beaten in the Semi-Finals. She placed 6th again behind Rot in the 200m in 25.19.


Amelita Alanes End of an Era 

Active throughout most of the seventies. Alanes is nearing the end of her career, now competing under her married name of Saberon.


1975 Asian Championships

By 1975 Alanes failed to defend her Asian 100 meter title. She could only make the Semi-Finals of the Asian Championships with a time of 12.60 finishing 11th overall and failing to even advance to the finals.

Alanes performed better in the 200 meters finishing second in her heat in 25.14. She made the final but couldn’t get a medal, finishing 5th in 25.18. And was also a member of the 4x400m team, which was disqualified after finishing the 5th of 5 teams.


1978 Asian Games

While her individual times never lived up again to her form in the early 1970s.  She was now part of the relay at the 8th Asian Games in 1978, which collected the Bronze medal. (Alanes, Salao, Mantawel (or Torres?), Morcilla).

She made the semi-finals at the 1978 Asian Games, but her time had dropped to 12.50. And by this stage, she was playing second fiddle to the upcoming Lorena Morcilla. Like the 1975 Asian Championships, Alanes-Saberon did not make the final, and Morcilla wound up qualifying and finishing last in the final. This time only just missing out, finishing 9th=. 

She turned the tables around in the 200m, with her and Morcilla both making the finals. Alanes-Saberon finished 5th in 25.45, and Morcilla again, like the 100m, placed 8th.

Alanes eventually gave way to a group of sprinters. The main one Lorena Morcilla was the most dominant sprinter in the Philippines from 1979-1981. Until a talented teenager came of age from Bulacan by the name of Lydia De Vega. Lured out of retirement at the age of 28, she went up against the upcoming youngster who beat the veteran in all three sprints.


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