Obiena, 4 other PATAFA athletes adjust training plans over COVID-19 threat

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2020 06:26 PM

EJ Obiena. Kirill Kudryavtsev, AFP/file

MANILA, Philippines -- Tokyo Olympics qualifier EJ Obiena and other top athletes of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) are now looking for ways to continue their training despite their schedules being affected by the deadly coronavirus.

Obiena is now mapping out together with his personal Ukrainian coach, Vitali Petrov, their general preparation plans which center around competitions and training in Chula Vista, California and Europe. 

Obiena jumped 5.80 meters to become the first Pinoy to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

He was set to compete in the Asian Indoor Championship and the World Indoor in March, both to be held in China, but had to alter his plans when both events were rescheduled by the World Athletics (formerly IAAF) amid the coronavirus threat.

Three-time SEA Games gold medalist Eric Cray, who has a strong chance qualifying for the Olympics, was also forced to make adjustments after the rescheduling of the Chinese championships. 

This forced Cray to compete in two indoor meets in New Mexico, where he ran the 400-meters 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 compete in several top-notch competitions in the US in the next 5 months.

Indiana University-based William Morrison achieved a distance of 20.21 meters in the shotput in a meet in Indiana earlier this month. 

Morrison expressed confidence in meeting the qualifying standard of 21.10 meters “with a lot of hard work and technical adjustments.”

2019 SEA Games 200 meter queen, Florida-based Kristina 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 and Austin in Texas, and in Japan and Italy.

Pole vaulter Natalie Rose Uy, 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 m. 

Uy, now based in Kentucky under coach Becky Holliday, also competed at the Pole Vault Summit in Nevada.

Meanwhile, 2019 SEA Games marathon surprise gold medalist Christine Hallasgo proved her victory was no fluke by winning the Milo National Marathon this month in Tarlac City. 

In the absence of qualifying marathons, Hallasgo, an athlete-housewife-mother, will continue working to prepare for the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam. 

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).