Five athletes of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, namely EJ Obiena, Eric Cray, William Morrison, Kristina Knott and Natalie Rose Uy are continuing their relentless pursuit of the first ever Olympic gold for the Philippines as they bravely brush aside the worldwide threat of the deadly Coronavirus.
First 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifier, EJ Obiena is now mapping out, together with his personal Ukrainian coach Vitali Petrov, their general preparation plans that center around competitions and training in Chula Vista, California and Europe.
Obiena, who jumped 5.80 meters to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and was all set to compete in the Asian Indoor championship and the world indoor in March, both to be held in China, had to alter his plans when both events were cancelled and rescheduled by the World Athletics (formerly IAAF) to protect the health and well being of the world’s top athletes. The new plan of Obiena and Petrov will be unveiled on Feb. 25.
Three-time 400 m hurdles SEA Games gold medalist Cray has a strong chance of qualifying for the Olympics, either by meeting the qualifying standard of 48.80 seconds, or by being ranked in the world’s top 50 by the end of the qualifying date of June 29, 2020. The qualifying period started May 1, 2019.
Like Obiena, Cray was forced to make adjustments to his preparations after the cancellation and rescheduling of the Chinese championships.
Soon after word was received that the indoor championships were cancelled, Cray competed in two indoor meets in New Mexico. He ran the 400m to work on some strength and endurance before the US outdoor season starts in March.
Cray ended the indoor season this month with a time of 47.80 in the 400 meters. He will be competing in several top-notch competitions in the United States in the next four or five months.
Indiana University-based Morrison achieved a distance of 20.21 meters—a new Philippine record—in the shotput in a meet in Indiana earlier this month.
The record compares very favorably with the qualifying standard of 21.10 meters.
In a conversation Morrison had with Patafa President Philip Ella Juico earlier this month, Morrison expressed confidence in meeting the qualifying standard “with a lot of hard work and technical adjustments.”
Southeast Asian Games’ 200-meter queen, Florida-based Knott, was also forced to make adjustments because of the events in China. The updated plan is to compete in the Texas relays and then move on to Orlando, Florida and train there until the rest of the outdoor races are confirmed for April and beyond. The rest of the plan will have Knott competing in San Antonio, Austin, all in Texas, and in Japan and Italy.
Pole vaulter Uy, the 2019 SEA Games’ gold medalist and bronze medal winner in the 2019 Asian Championship in Doha, Qatar, recently established a new Philippine indoor record of 4.25 meters.
Uy, now based in Kentucky under coach Becky Holliday, also competed at the Pole Vault Summit in Nevada. She is expected to compete in a great number of outdoor events.