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Juico wants more local athletes in 2020 Olympics

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The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association won’t rest on its achievements in 2019 as it ramps up its preparations to send more athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kristina Knott

Patafa president Philip Juico said this on the heels of another successful year that sent the first Filipino qualifier to the Tokyo games, shattered several records and netted 11 golds, eight silvers and the same number of bronze medals for the national sports association of athletics in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the New Clark City Athletic Stadium in Capas, Tarlac.

Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena qualified for the Olympics when he cleared 5.81 meters during the Street Meet in Chiara, Italy last September. He capped his season with a new games’ record of 5.45 meters for the gold in the SEA Games.

“We have more work to do. I think there will be more qualifiers from athletics,” said Juico, citing trackster Kristina Knott, shot putter William Morrison and hurdles’ king Eric Cray. 

Knott won two golds in the SEA Games in the 200 meters and 4×100 mixed relay. Her 23.07 seconds, a new SEAG record in the 200 meters, is very near the Olympic qualifying time of 22.08.

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Morrison, on the other hand, also set a new games’ record of 18.38 in the shot put event of the SEAG. 

“Morrison is a candidate for the Olympics. Kaya niya because he is throwing the metal ball at the 20-meter range,” said Juico of Morrison’s marks, which is near the 21.1 Olympic standard. “Hopefully, Cray will make it, too.”

Juico is upbeat of the coming year following the national track and field team’s scintillating show in the SEA Games with a haul of 11 gold, eight silver and eight bronze medals—PATAFA’s biggest harvest in the biennial meet since an 11-11-8 tally during Gintong Alay in the 1983 edition in Singapore.

Several records in athletics were set in the passing year, four of which were achieved in the SEA Games—the pole-vault leaps of Obiena and Natalie Uy, Knott’s 200-meter run and Morrison’s throw.

It was Uy, who set the ball rolling in March when she cleared 4.12 meters in her first try during her Philippine debut in the 2019 Ayala Philippine Athletics Championship at the Ilagan Sports Complex. She broke Deborah Samson’s 11-year-old record (4.11m). 

Uy again smashed the national women’s record at 4.25 meters during a Cincinnati meet a month later, and at 4.3 meters during the Spanish Club Championships last June 18, before shattering the SEA Games’ mark with her 4.25.

Meanwhile, Carter Lilly, a graduate of the University of Iowa, clocked 1:47.52 for a new national record in the men’s 800-meter run in the Bryan Clay Invitationals in Los Angeles, last April.

Lilly also set Philippine record in the indoor events for the 600-meter and 800-meter runs. He clocked 1:16.19 in the 600-meter run at the Meyo Invitationals in South Bend Invitationals in California last Feb. 1. A week later, Lilly made a time of 1:14.17 at the 800-meter event in Iowa.

National junior records were also rewritten during the PATAFA Weekly Relays.

This was from San Beda University standout Al Rhhyan Labita, when his time of 48.75 seconds in the secondary boys 400-meter run overshadowed the 17-year record of Ralph Waldy Soguilon of 48.81 during a UAAP meet.

There were two other indoor marks broken and these were from Fil-Americans Joshua Coffelt and Robyn Brown. Coffelt finished the men’s 3000-meter indoor run in 8:55.41 at the Southwestern Conference in Birmingham, Alabama last Feb. 14, while Robyn Brown had 42.7 seconds in women’s 300-meter hurdles at the El Camino Allcomers last Feb. 1.

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