No worries for Juico as Fil-Am track stars skip National Open
Sprinter Kristina Knott and hurdler Eric Cray won’t be able to showcase their progress when the Philippines hosts an Olympic qualifying meet near the end of the year.
Fellow Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Willie Morrison (shot put) and female pole vaulter Natalie Uy will likewise stay at the sidelines during the Philippine Athletics Championships from Dec. 4 to 6, the first Olympic qualifier in the coronavirus pandemic era.
“I would rather that they don’t come over to Manila. It’s a question of logistics. We don’t have the manpower to follow them everywhere they go,’’ said Philip Ella Juico, Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president.
These four US-based Filipino athletics stars will miss the national open, which doubles as a gateway to the Tokyo Olympics next year, but Juico isn’t bothered at all.
“It’s not the last opportunity for them. In fact, it’s the first opportunity because the qualifying season starts on Dec. 1 and ends May 29 next year,’’ Juico said.
Knott’s 23.01-second clocking in the women’s 200 meters of last year’s SEA Games is just short of the Olympic standard of 22.80 seconds.
Morrison, the current SEA Games men’s shot put champion, hopes to meet the Olympic standard of 21.10 meters. His current personal best stands at 20.40 meters.
“We expect more foreign participants to come over, but this will create problems for us. First, because of our situation in terms of the pandemic and second, it’s very difficult for you to move around,’’ Juico said.
Cray, the defending four-time men’s 400-meter hurdles champion, and Uy, whose 4.25-meter performance set a new regional record in women’s pole vault, are also hoping to join pole vault ace Ernest John Obiena in Tokyo.
“My advice for them is stay put there in America where there will be several competitions starting in January,’’ Juico said.
Marathoner Christine Hallasgo is another Olympic aspirant who will join a one-month training bubble set up by the track and field association at La Salle Canlubang on Nov. 1. \
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