The two finals slots for each of the 37 events that the Philippines will join in the athletics meet of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games are about to be filled up.
Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association secretary general Edward Kho said this as they begin their three-day final selection on Feb. 28 at the Philsport oval in Pasig.
“We are going to make a final cut to two. Because we are only allowed to enter two athletes per event in the SEA Games,” said Kho.
The final candidates for the biennial Games will need to meet the cutoff times and distances to make it to the national squad.
The gold medal performances of the 2022 SEA Games will serve as the standard for the selection process, according to Kho.
On Tuesday, the action begins in the 10,000-meter run, with Christine Hallasgo among the top bets to make it.
The women’s discus throw, the heptathlon, the men’s and women’s 110-meter hurdles, and the men’s and women’s 400-meter run are also among the first events on tap.
National head coach Jojo Posadas said he is looking forward to seeing new faces as well.
Two collegiate standouts, sprinter Alrhyan Labita and triple jumper Abcd Agamanos could find their spots in the national athletics squad if they make an impression.
The 21-year-old Labita, a student at the University of the Philippines, showed a lot of promise with the five-gold sweep of his events in the recent UAAP track meet after he topped the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 400-meter sprints.
Labita also had first-place finishes for UP in the 4×100-meter relays, and in the 400-meter hurdles.
The 5’6” Labita came close to matching the SEA Games bronze medal standard of 10.56 seconds when he ran the 100-meter sprints at 10.94 seconds, and 10.99 seconds in the heats and finals respectively in the UAAP trackfest.
On the other hand, Agamanos, a prized find from La Salle, settled for a silver with her 11.89-meter feat in the triple jump, behind Faith Gonzales(12.10 meters).
Posadas said they are evaluating their performances together with national mainstays, men’s triple jumper Harry Diones, Clinton Bautista(100-meter hurdles), women’s 100-meter hurdles standout Jelly Paragile, and javelin thrower Melvin Calano.
Posadas will be looking into the performances of the national pool with the help of Dario De Rosas and Sean Guevarra (multi-event), Jeoffrey Chua (sprints and hurdles), Emerson Obiena (pole vault), Joebert Delicano (jumps), Arniel Ferrera (shot put, discus throw and hammer throw), Danilo Fresnido (javelin throw), Isidro Del Prado (middle sprint), John Lozada (middle distance) and Eduardo Buenavista (long distance).