MANILA, Philippines -- The head of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) believes at least two more Filipino track stars can join pole vaulter EJ Obiena in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Obiena qualified for the Olympic Games in September 2019 when he registered a mark of 5.81-m, surpassing the Olympic qualifying standard of 5.80-m.
According to PATAFA President Philip Ella "Popoy" Juico, sprinters Kristina Knott and Eric Cray are on track to join Obiena. If Knott makes it, it would be her maiden Olympics; Cray previously represented the Philippines in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro where he made it to the semifinals of the 400-m hurdles.
"Eric Cray … (is) doing very well, and he's on track," Juico said recently.
Cray was in action in January when he competed in an event in Birmingham, Alabama. There, he won the 60-m with a time of 6.75 seconds.
"He's trying to compete in areas which are near his place in Texas, so there is not much movement," said Juico.
Cray is looking to reach the qualifying standard of 48.9s for the 400m hurdles, his pet event. He holds the Philippines record in the event at 48.98s, set in a meet in Spain in 2016. Cray also holds the national record in the 100m at 10.25s, which he set during the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
The 25-year-old Knott, meanwhile, recently competed in Arkansas, registering a mark of 7.26s in the 60-m.
Knott holds the Philippine records in both the 100m (11.27 seconds) and 200m (23.01 seconds), and Juico is confident that she can meet the qualifying standard in the 200m.
"I'm confident that Kristina will qualify on her own. In fact, she wants that," said Juico of Knott, who can technically make it to the Tokyo Games via the universality rule.
"She wants to qualify outright. She does not want to qualify in terms of ranking, she wants to meet the standard. She doesn't want to qualify in terms of the universality principle, she wants to qualify outright, meet the standard," Juico stressed.
The Olympic qualifying standard for the women's 200m is 22.8s.
Both Cray and Knott have until the end of June to meet the qualifying standards for the Tokyo Games, which opens on July 23.