Clark Freeport Zone– Philippine Athletics’ Track and Field Association president Philip Juico urged members of the national team to be at their best when action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games athletics meet begins next week.
Juico said this as he maintains a projected gold-silver-bronze medal haul of 6-10-8 in the trackfest to be held from Dec. 6 to 10.
Around 73 national team members will join participants from 10 other nations in seeking medals at the 20,000-seat New Clark City athletics’ stadium inside the sprawling 9,500-hectare NCC sports complex.
“Do your best. I know you will do your best and prepare smart,” said Juico during yesterday’s sendoff ceremony at the Marriott Hotel in Clark Field, Pampanga.
The tracksters tipped to win golds are pole vaulters Ernest John Obiena and Natalie Uy, 800-meter specialist Carter Lilly, 400-m hurdles champ Eric Cray, sprinter Kristina Knott and new recruit, shot-putter William Morrison.
Lilly, a graduate of University of Iowa, is a top bet in the men’s 400-meter run.
Lilly has made the cut after he recorded a time of 48.96 seconds during the National Open in Ilagan, Isabela early this year.
Lilly’s clocking is the bronze medal time of 2017 medallist Cong Lich Quach of Vietnam of 46.48 seconds.
The national squad has been cut to 73 following the injury of two middle-distance runners.
The Guernaly brothers Said and Yasi have backed out of the 5,000-meter and 1500-meter runs, and are now recovering.
Soleus time pieces and Milo beverages are among the top sponsors of the national squad.
The 21-year-old Morrison is favored after throwing the metal ball to a distance of 20.4 meters in a Bloomington, Indiana meet last June.
That mark, is over two meters better than the 17.42, which Promrob Juntima of Thailand achieved when he won the gold medal back in the 2017 SEA Games.
Morrison is just half a meter short of the Olympic standard of 21.1 that would qualify him for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Another FilAm is Cray, who is the best bet in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, since he is no. 1 in the SEA rankings.
Pole-vaulters Obiena and Uy, the gold and bronze medalists, respectively, in the Asian Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar, are currently the best in the region.
Coaches Dario Darosas, Sean Guevarra, Emerson Obiena, Eduardo Buenavista, Jojo Posadas and Roshan Griffin are among the members of the national coaching staff working closely to help keep the athletes in good shape.