Top PH athletics bets face potential SEA Games foes
Pole vault star EJ Obiena and shot put standout William Morrison III need not show up at the ICTSI Philippine Athletics Championships starting Tuesday since both bets are virtually assured of gold in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games anyway.
The rest of Team Philippines, however, will get to feel out their competition in the regional meet.
Sprinters Kayla Richardson and Kristina Knott as well as hurdlers Eric Cray and Clinton Bautista will carry the torch for the country in the track meet at Ilagan City, Isabela province, which could very well serve as a preview of the Cambodia SEA Games due to the presence of several foreign entries.
Malaysia alone brought 30 athletes, Vietnam has entered 16 of their finest bets while Thailand and Indonesia have enlisted seven participants. Brunei joined in the mix with six athletes, making the annual tournament known as the National Open a glimpse of what to expect in the SEA Games set May 5 to 17.
“We are looking at a better showing. Apart from the athletes who possess strong chances of getting the gold, we are hoping the others could perform beyond expectations,’’ said Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) national coach Jojo Posadas.
Team Philippines registered five gold medals last year in the Vietnam SEA Games through Obiena, Morrison, Cray (men’s 400-meter hurdles), Bautista (men’s 110 hurdles) and Richardson (women’s 100m).
Host Vietnam hauled 22 golds on top of 14 silvers and eight bronzes and Thailand had 12 golds with 11 silvers and eight bronzes, to finish ahead of the Philippines, which landed third overall in athletics competitions on the strength of its seven-silver, 14-bronze harvest that pipped Malaysia’s 5-3-8 output.
This year’s National Open drew an increased foreign participation because the meet will offer ranking points for qualification to the World Athletics Championship on Aug. 19 to 27 in Budapest, Hungary, and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
A gold medal is equivalent to 100 points, a silver 80 and a bronze 60 with points awarded up to eighth place across all events.
“It means that if you qualify in the finals, you’ve already gained points,’’ said Patafa secretary general Edward Kho.