The Philippine Track and Field Association (Patafa) will deliberate next week on who among Kristina Knott, Natalie Uy and Christine Hallasgo will be given the Olympic spot for next year’s Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan.
National training director Nonoy Unso said the three female tracksters emerged as the candidates for the position after their impressive showing in the just-concluded 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.
Knott won the gold medal in the 200-meter run in a record fashion, Uy set a new meet mark in the women’s pole vault while Hallasgo dethroned SEA Games marathon queen Mary Joy Tabal in the biennial meet.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows each country to send one male and one female athelete in the centerpiece athletics based on the gender equality rule.
Since pole vaulter EJ Obiena already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, Patafa now has to settle on who will be its female entry in the Summer Games.
The national tracksters finished third overall in the athletics competition with 11 golds, eight silvers and eight bronze medals, making Patafa one of the successful sports associations in the 11-nation conclave.
“Based on our initial objectives, we are very successful. We exceeded our target of six to eight gold medals,” Patafa president Philip Ella Juico told Daily Tribune.
“We could have gotten 13 gold medals at best, but we are contented with our results. They broke records and also set their personal best,” he added.
The Phl team could have gotten two more golds if not for the disqualification of Eric Cray in the qualifying race of the 100-m event while Carter Lilly was edged by a Vietnamese runner in a photo finish of the men’s 800-m run to settle for the silver medal.
Knott’s time of 23.01 seconds in the 200-m sprint set a new SEA Games and Philippine record while Uy’s 4.25 meters was also the new standard of the Games.
Hallasgo was a surprise gold-medal winner as she just trained last July and had to beat her Olympian teammate Tabal, who settled for the silver medal.
“As I told the athletes and the coaches for several times, they should consider the SEA Games as a continuing tryouts for the succeeding meets like the Olympics and Asian Games,” Juico said.
“Everybody here is a work in progress, we continue to prepare for upcoming meets and championships.”
Obiena, as expected, also set a new SEA Games mark with 5.45 meters though it was way below his Olympic-qualifying distance of 5.81 meters he set in Italy.
Willie Morrison was also way off his best distance as just threw 18.38 meters in the men’s shot put. The 23-year old thrower’s personal best is 20.40 meters.
Juico said they will continue to chase more Olympic spots.
“Knott have the highest chance of continuing for the Olympics, though she missed the standard qualifying time of 22.8 seconds. She was very close to it,” Juico said.
“William Morrison of shot put can also be there probably. They will still be competing in a lot of indoor tournaments in the United States. Come January and February, we’ll see.”