MANILA, Philippines — Kristina Knott, the Philippines' sprint queen, is a woman of her word.
In the 2018 Asian Games — her first time competing for the Philippines — Knott promised to reset the national mark in the 200-meters. It was a record that had been held by the iconic Lydia de Vega since 1986.
"I will be breaking the record soon," Knott told reporters after running 23.51 seconds in the final of the 200-meters at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta. "Give me a little bit more time."
A year later, at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games at home, Knott did just that. The US-based track star ran 23.07 seconds in the heats, surpassing the 23.16 registered by Zion Rose Corrales-Nelson, earlier that year. De Vega's old record was 23.35 seconds.
After already making history in the heats, Knott proceeded to break her own record when she ran 23.01 seconds in the final, in the process winning the gold medal.
At the time, she was thrilled with the gold but slightly disappointed not to have reached the Olympic qualifying mark of 22.80 seconds. Knott ultimately won't reach that mark, as the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into their plans, but she still booked her slot to the Tokyo Olympics via the universality rule.
Knott will run her favorite distance of 200-meters rather than the century dash, where she also holds the national record of 11.27 seconds, set in August 2020.
"It's a relieving feeling," the 25-year-old Knott said on the "Power and Play" program of finally securing her place.
She has already set a goal for herself in Tokyo, and it's one that Knott has long wanted to achieve.
"I am trying to get out of the 23s," Knott told podcast host Noli Eala. "I no longer want to run 23 seconds in the 200 . . . I am tired of running 23 (seconds)."
Knott has yet to improve on the record she set during the SEA Games. Her best time in the 200 meters this year came last April in Louisiana, when she ran 23.17s.
"If that's 22.9 (seconds) or better, I'll take it," said Knott, who added that she is confident she can breach the 23-second barrier in the Tokyo Games.
Running below 23 seconds is no guarantee that Knott will reach the finals of the 200 meters; six women have run below 22 seconds this season led by Gabrielle Thomas of the United States (21.61).
Moreover, Knott's build-up to the Olympics has been less than ideal. On the same day she found out that she had secured her spot in Tokyo, Knott was also informed that she tested positive for COVID-19, forcing her to withdraw from the Karlstad Grand Prix in Sweden.
She has since tested negative and is back to work after getting out of "COVID jail."
For Knott, what's most important is to perform up to her own standards and achieve the goal that she has set for herself.
"I don't wanna go there just to go," she stressed. "Go there, show up, and show out. That's the goal."
Knott begins her Olympic campaign in the morning of August 2 at the Olympic Stadium, with the 200m heats. If she qualifies for the semifinals, she will run again in the evening.
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