Bautista, Tolentino in collision course for Paris berth
BANGKOK—Clinton Bautista is slowly rediscovering his old deadly form after checking in late for training with the national track and field team.
But while Bautista has been working on getting back in the groove, John Cabang Tolentino snatched a bronze medal in the men’s 110-meter (m) hurdles in the recent Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia by defeating Bautista and shattered the latter’s national record last month.
Both Bautista and the Filipino-Spanish Tolentino are determined to show who’s the better hurdler on Thursday at the 24th Asian Athletics Championships at the Supachalasai National Stadium here.
“Clinton has recovered after he officially started training in February. He wasn’t in top shape in the SEA Games,’’ said Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) national coach Jojo Posadas. “But now so far, so good.’’
Baustista was the 2022 Hanoi SEA Games champion in the 110m hurdles, but entered the national training camp close to the Cambodia Games due to his responsibilities as an enlisted personnel in the Philippine Navy.
“[Tolentino] broke [Bautista’s] record recently. He has great exposure in Europe. In fact, [Tolentino] will immediately fly back to Spain after the Asian championships,’’ said Posadas, the husband of Philippine track and field icon Elma Muros-Posadas.
Tolentino erased the 13.78-second PH standard set by Bautista in the Hanoi SEA Games last year by topping the Campeonato de Esukadi in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain in 13.65 seconds last month.
If one of them performs just a bit faster than their personal bests and meets the Olympic standard of 13.27 seconds here, that athlete gets a ticket to the 2024 Paris Games.
“It’s going to be a big challenge to win a medal here, but our athletes are all driven to perform at their best since this is also an opportunity to meet the qualifying standards in the Olympics,’’ said Patafa president Terry Capistrano.
According to Patafa secretary general Edward Kho, Capistrano won a seat on Tuesday in the eight-man council of the Asian Athletic Association, giving the Philippines a voice in the governing body of track and field in the continent.
Pole vault star Ernest John Obiena became the first Filipino to qualify for Paris and will bring his poles to the Asian tournament here in the eliminations on Friday and the finals on Sunday.
Frederick Ramirez advanced to the semifinals of the men’s 400m on Wednesday after placing fourth in the second heat (46.77 seconds), while Umajesty Williams failed to progress to the next phase with a 47.55 time in his heat.