“The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations,” says English writer Eli Khamarov.
That proved to be true for Fil-American sprinter Kristina Knott, who admitted that she wasn’t supposed to race the 100-meter event at the Drake Blue Oval Meet in Iowa where she eventually broke the 33-year-old national and Southeast Asian Games record of legendary Lydia De Vega-Mercado.
In a video interview with sportscaster Dyan Castillejo, Knott said she was only supposed to do the 200-meter event, but got a call that said she can both race in the 100m and 200m.
“But then I checked the heat sheets on Thursday and I was like, my name is only on the 100,” she said.
It turned out that athletes who initially occupied Knott’s slot in the 200m confirmed the last-minute, making the 24-year-old lose her spot.
“In my mind, I’m getting ready for the 200 and all that went out the window. I’ve been training for the 200 and I was ready to break my own (record),” she said.
The 200m was her pet event, where she currently holds the national record of 23.01 seconds.
Despite these late developments, Knott still went on to give her best performance in her career.
She settled for silver behind Kayla White (11.18 seconds), but shattered De Vega-Mercado’s long-standing PH and SEAG record of 11.28sec by timing 11.27sec.
De Vega-Mercado set the record eight years before Knott was born.
With this feat, Knott is now focused on qualifying for two events for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. The Olympic qualifying standard times in the 100m and 200m are 11.15sec and 22.80sec.
Meanwhile, Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Philip Ella Juico hopes more races will be available in the coming months leading to the Olympics that Knott and her fellow Olympic hopefuls could participate in.
“Despite the lack of competition, she (Knott) has not peaked yet, says her sprint coach Rohsaan Griffin,” Juico said. “But Griffin emphasized she can definitely improve with more races.”
“I am hopeful that with almost a year from Tokyo (Olympics), the increasing number of competitions, the well-coordinated approach of (strength and coaching) Catlo Buzzicelli and Griffin, the single-minded determination of Kristina and the forthcoming additional support of the PSC and PATAFA’s willingness to invest in all its athletes and coaches, Kristina may get a berth in both events.”
Juico is also optimistic of other athletes seeking Olympic berths like sprinter Eric Cray, pole vaulter Natalie Uy and marathoner Christine Hallasgo.
So far, pole vaulter EJ Obiena has qualified to the Tokyo Games for the PH team along with gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Felix Marcial.