CAPAS CITY — Regardless of what happens, Filipino-American sprinter Kristina Knott will still do everything to book a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics next year.
Knott, the 24-year-old University of Miami star, pulled off a shocker when she captured the gold medal in record-breaking fashion in the women’s 200-meter run of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games late Saturday at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium here.
Knott registered 23.01 seconds to shatter the standing SEA Games record of 23.30 seconds clocked by Supavadee Khawpaeg of Thailand in the Kuala Lumpur edition of the Games in 2001 and the Philippine record of 23.32 seconds registered by fellow Filipino-American sprinter Zion Corrales-Nelson in a collegiate tournament in Sacramento last April.
Prior to Corrales-Nelson’s record, the Philippine mark was 23.35 seconds, which was tallied by legendary Lydia de Vega-Mercado in a tournament in Walnut, California 33 years ago.
Still, there’s one important record that Knott failed to surpass: The Olympic qualifying mark of 22.80 seconds.
And that’s what she will be working on in the next couple of months.
Her coach, Roshan Griffin, said that will be her focus in the next couple of months.
“That’s all I’ve been focusing on the entire year. We wanted to get the qualifying time. We kinda fell short, but I know she’s capable of getting it,” said Griffin, the noted American speed coach who also mentored the Chinese national squad and some bets from the Carribean and Ivory Coast.
Knott said Griffin told her not to go hard, knowing that it’s not yet the perfect time before she hits the Olympic qualifying mark.
“My coach told me before the finals to just relax and run my pace,” said Knott, who barged into the limelight as an obscure sprinter from Orlando, Florida before campaigning in the 18th Asian Games last year.
“But at the end, I was sort of relaxed too much. But it’s okay. I got the gold medal, anyway.”
Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa) president Philip Ella Juico said he wouldn’t be surprised if Knott makes it to the Olympics.
After all, Knott has been working hard with only one goal in mind.
“She really wants to make it to the Olympics,” said Juico, adding that with the way things are going, Knott could also break other records set by De Vega-Mercado more than three decades ago.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens. She’s working hard and it’s just a matter of time before she makes it to the Olympics or break Lydia’s previous records.”
“The federation is supporting her in her quest. We will provide everything she needs to make it to the Olympics.”
Knott has until June to hit the Olympic qualifying standard.
It’s still more than six months from, but she vowed to work on it as soon as the Games are over.
“I have until June to make it,” she said, flashing a winning smile.
“I’ll go back to training after this and hopefully get it. I have less than a year to do it.”