MANILA, Philippines – Filipina-American sprinter Kristina Knott will fly the flag in the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Serbia as star pole vaulter EJ Obiena sits out the prestigious meet.
Already in Belgrade, Knott ended up as the Philippines’ lone bet in the biennial event after Obiena failed to secure the endorsement of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).
Knott, who qualified for the women’s 60m, will go up against some of the best runners from all over the world, including former European champion Ewa Swoboda of Poland and Olympic relay gold medalist Shericka Jackson of Jamaica.
There are a total of 49 sprinters from 38 countries seeing action in the event.
Ranked No. 150 in the world, Knott owns a personal-best time of 7.26 and a season-best time of 7.42 in the women’s 60m.
The World Indoor will run for three days at the Stark Arena starting on Friday, March 18 (Saturday, March 19, Manila time).
Obiena was supposed to accompany Knott – a fellow Tokyo Olympian – in Serbia, but announced over the weekend that registration had already closed even before he obtained the endorsement from the PATAFA.
PATAFA also refused to endorse Obiena for the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam in May and Asian Games in China in September.
“I am ready to be the first Philippine homegrown athlete to compete in the worlds and I am ready to compete and bring home a medal. Now is my time – no, now is our time,” Obiena said.
“But sadly, we will never know.”
Obiena, though, still clings on the chance to participate in the SEA Games after the Philippine Olympic Committee suspended PATAFA on Thursday for 90 days.
Meanwhile, Knott seeks to use the World Indoors as a warmup event for the SEA Games, where she will try to defend her gold medals in the women’s 200m and 4x100m mixed relay. – Rappler.com