PH tracksters pursue Olympic dream despite coronavirus outbreak
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino tracksters continue to gear up for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics despite the threat of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena, the first Filipino to qualify for Tokyo, has been mapping out his preparation plans with Ukrainian coach Vitali Petrov which center around competing and training in California, USA and Europe.
Obiena, who cleared 5.8 meters to punch his Olympic ticket, was slated to see action in the Asian Indoor Championships and the World Indoor Championships in China in March but both events were postponed.
World Athletics, formerly known as the IAAF, decided to call off both championships due the coronavirus outbreak.
Obiena and Petrov will unveil their new plans on February 25.
Like Obiena, three-time SEA Games 400m hurdles gold medalist Eric Cray was forced to tweak his plans following the postponement of the events in China and he instead competed in two indoor meets in New Mexico, USA.
He can make the Olympics by meeting the qualifying standard of 48.8 seconds or by being ranked in the world's top 50 by the end of the qualifying date on June 29.
Cray will be suiting up in several top-notch competitions in the USA in the next 4 or 5 months.
Meanwhile, William Morrison achieved a distance of 20.21 meters in shotput in a meet in Indiana, USA earlier February – a mark that compares favorably with the qualifying standard of 21.1 meters.
In a conversation with Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Philip Ella Juico, Morrison expressed confidence in meeting the qualifying standard "with a lot of hard work and technical adjustments."
Kristina Knott, who lorded over the 200m sprint in the 2019 SEA Games, was also affected by the cancellation of the events in China.
The Florida-based runner will compete in the Texas relays before she moves to Orlando and train there until the rest of the outdoor races are confirmed for April and beyond.
Knott will then have stops in San Antonio and Austin in Texas and in Japan and Italy.
Pole vaulter Natalie Uy, the 2019 SEA games gold medalist and a 2019 Asian Championship bronze medalist, recently set a new Philippine indoor record of 4.25 m.
Uy participated in the Pole Vault Summit in Nevada and will play in several outdoor events in the months to come.
Christine Hallasgo, who emerged as the surprise marathon gold medalist in the 2019 SEA Games, proved her victory was no fluke by winning the MILO National Marathon this month in Tarlac City.
Meanwhile, the rest of the 50-string PATAFA national pool are preparing for regional meets, national championships, and the Philippine National Athletics Championships. – Rappler.com