Pinay pole-vaulter Natalie Uy, seeking Olympic berth, sets personal best in US tilt

Martin Javier

Posted at Jul 17 2020 08:50 PM

Pinay pole-vaulter Natalie Uy, seeking Olympic berth, sets personal best in US tilt 1
Natalie Uy at the 2019 SEA Games. On Thursday, the 2019 SEA Games champion and record holder, joined other pole-vaulters from around the world at the Acadia Invitational in South Carolina, a sanctioned backyard tournament restricted heavily by health protocols. Czar Dancel, ABS-CBN News/file

US-based Filipino pole-vaulter Natalie Uy keeps raising the bar, based on her recent performance in the States.

The Southeast Asian Games gold medalist and record-holder cleared 4.30 meters at the Acadia Invitational in Greenville, South Carolina, Thursday (US time), topping her mark in the regional Games. 

The Dayton, Ohio, native was determined to prove her worth against elite competitors, including Olympian Sandi Morris of the US.

Uy started by soaring above the 4-meter mark in her second try. 

With momentum slowly picking up, she masterfully vaulted over 4.15 in just one go. 

The next goal was to reach 4.30, which is significant because it is her personal best, a mark she reached when she was training in Spain in 2018, and 5 centimeters more than her gold-winning finish in the 2019 SEA Games.

Uy's first attempt was a little shaky, as she hit the bar on her way up. With enough time to regroup, though, she gathered herself and pulled off a perfectly executed attempt, clearing 4.30 meters with ease and tying her personal best. 

The outcome was the fruit of labor for the 25-year old, who has been training relentlessly in the US. 

Shortly after her SEA Games stint in December, Uy went back to the States to spend the holidays with her family. 

Since then, she has been going through hoops and bouncing around to sustain her training. So for her, accomplishing the results she wanted was a huge relief. 

“I’ve had fun meets in a club back home. I’ve been ironing some things out now for a little bit now. So this is my first time on my long step. It was a little bit jittery coming in, but it feels good now,” Uy said in an interview on ESPN.

The Acadia Invitational gathered 10 of the best pole vaulters in the world in a sanctioned backyard event, using a facility built by Morris and her father, and making sure health protocols are followed amid an ongoing pandemic.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, it’s been extremely challenging for athletes to find competitions, including Uy. 

“It’s been a while since I’ve competed. To get back on the runway, to get the anxiety out again, it feels really good to clear the bar,” Uy said. 

The Acadia Invitational is the first USA Track & Field-sanctioned meet since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed. 

The event also featured two-time US champion Katie Nageotte, and two-time outdoor NCAA champion Olivia Gruver. 

Performing well against elite company was a step in the right direction for Uy, who is vying for a slot in the Olympics. 

“It was so great just to be around the girls, just to feel the energy again. With the quarantine and everything, it’s been really tough to self-motivate. Just being around with the girls, with the crowd, it’s been absolutely incredible. (To qualify) I gotta hit the standard 4.70 or top 32. It’s definitely attainable,” Uy said. 

With a year to prepare and a few centimeters to conquer, the future is bright for the Philippines’ pole vault ace. 

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