Obiena, Knott lead crack Asian Athletics PH crew
Pole vault star Ernest John Obiena and sprint ace Kristina Marie Knott will spearhead a pack of Filipino track and field athletes in the forthcoming Asian Indoor Athletics Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Obiena could easily shatter the existing record and have a clear shot at the gold on a fine day, but the continental indoor meet would mostly be a sneak peek of how the rest of the national athletics squad would carry themselves in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and Asian Games this year.
SEA Games shot put champion William Morrison III will join the 17-athlete cast during the Feb. 10 to 12 tournament, where five-time regional 400-meter hurdles gold medalist Eric Cray and Knott, Southeast Asia’s 200-m record-holder, have been enlisted.
Piece of the action
Former SEA Games heptathlon titleholder Sarah Dequinan, pole vault silver medalist Hokett delos Santos, triple jumper Mark Harry Diones, long jumper Janry Ubas and lady pole vaulter Natalie Uy will also get a piece of the action.“These select athletes will be exposed to the idea that they belong to the big hitters’ league,’’ said Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association secretary general Edward Kho.
But during indoor competitions, some of these tracksters will race in a shorter route or play lesser events than usual.
Knott is entered in the women’s 60m, Dequinan will compete in the pentathlon while Cray has three events—60m, 400m and the 4×400-m relay with Michael Carlo del Prado and Edwin Giron Jr., who will be targeting a medal in the men’s 800m.
Ubas, who used to see action in the men’s decathlon, will suit up in the heptathlon.
“They will basically face the same competitors here in the Asian Games,’’ said Kho.
Joining them in the three-day track meet are Leonard Grospe (high jump), Mariano Masano (800m), Jelly Dianne Paragile (60-m hurdles), Alexie Mae Caimoso (pentathlon) and Melissa Escoton (60m hurdles).A prized find in Filipino-Spanish hurdler John Tolentino Cabang will be tested against Asia’s best after emerging with a better clocking than Clinton Bautista, the current SEA Games men’s 110-m hurdles champion who owns the national record of 13.78 seconds.
“John came over to our weekly relays last Nov. 19 and raced in the 110-m hurdles. He was able to run faster than Clinton Bautista’s personal best,’’ said Kho.
After snaring five gold medals in the Vietnam SEA Games last year, Kho said they will be aiming for more in the coming Cambodia edition of the Games on May 5 to 17.
He said the SEA Games roster for athletics will be finalized after their national open on March 22 to 26, which will serve as the final stage of qualifications. INQ
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