Juico hopeful of three more bets to Tokyo

Published February 16, 2021, 2:49 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Kristina Knott
Filipino-American sprinter Kristina Knott (REUTERS / Athit Perawongmetha)

The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) is eyeing three more athletes to earn berths to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics set July 3 to Aug. 8.

PATAFA President Philip Ella Juico said tracksters Eric Cray and Kristina Knott, and pole vaulter Natalie Uy – all national record-holders and based in the United States – have been concentrating on joining races to make the qualifying standard by the end of June.

Cray, who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, has been aiming to earn a spot in the 400-meter hurdles and is trying to compete in races near Texas where he is currently based.

Knott, who was known to have broken Lydia De Vega’s 33-year-old national record in the 100m last August, is currently in Orlando, Florida and is looking at entering a training bubble for two months in Texas.

Knott’s PH record of 11.27sec in the 100m is already near the 11.15sec Olympic qualifying mark.

Uy, meanwhile, is doing her best to recuperate from a wrist injury by experimenting in vaulting in small increments.

“I’m hoping for the best for these athletes,” Juico said in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Online Forum.

So far, the country has four Olympic qualifiers, one of which comes from athletics in pole vaulter EJ Obiena.

Obiena has been faring well in recent tournaments abroad where he bagged two gold medals and reset the national indoor mark to 5.86 meters.

Juico is confident the 25-year-old pole vaulter can land the podium in the Olympics.

“Who doesn’t dream of that? Winning a medal at the Olympics?” Juico said.

Meanwhile, PATAFA is hoping to get word from Secretary Vince Dizon, Deputy Chief Implementer of the National Action Plan Against COVID-19, regarding their planned training bubble and National Open competition at the New Clark City.

Juico said they hope to hold camp in July and August, and then stage the National Open in September which will serve as a tryout for athletes seeking berths to the PH team bound for the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam set Nov. 21 to Dec. 2.

The training camp and competition have been moved several times due to government restrictions caused by the pandemic.

“We wanted to hold the training camp but things have been delayed so much,” Juico said.