The stifling Tokyo summer heat, Olympic debut jitters, and miscalculated acceleration.
Any or all of the three factors might have led to the early exit of sprinter Kristina Knott, who failed to advance past the heats of the women’s 200-meter dash on Monday of the Tokyo Olympics track competitions at the Japan National Stadium.
Although improved practice times in the run-up to the race were encouraging, Knott finished dead last in the field of five runners in seventh and final heat in a time of 23.80 seconds, placing 37th overall out of the 41 entries, for the shortest Olympic outing among the 19 PH campaigners at the Summer Games.
The top three finishers from each heat advanced outright to the semifinals scheduled later that day, plus the secondary qualifiers from the best times culled across the heats.
What was heartbreaking was that had she at least tied her national mark of 23.01 seconds — set in ruling her pet event at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Capas town, Tarlac — she could have booked a spot in the next round.
That time could have easily boosted Knott past Portuguese Lorene Dorcas Bazolo and Italian Dalia Kaddari, who qualified in placing No. 27 and No. 28 with times of 23.21 and 23.26 seconds, respectively.
Reports from Tokyo said that Knott might have been affected by the scorching sun in the race that began close to high noon.
“She (Knott) suffered heat exhaustion. Nag-stay muna after the race sa medical station sa stadium for about an hour and rehydrated (She stayed after the race at the medical stadium at the stadium for an hour and rehydrated),” deputy team manager Edward Kho was quoted as saying.
“She (Knott) felt ill before the gun start. After crossing the finish line, she was vomiting and dazed. She is resting in her room now.”
Melbourne-based coach Andrew Pirie, a former Philippine Sports Commission statistician and national junior sprinter, observed that Knott “looked nervous at the starting block and tight entering the home straight in the last 120 meters.”
Based on the statistics from Olympic.com, Knott had the fastest reaction time of .133 seconds at the start among the runners in her heat.
Pirie, who owns the pinoyathletics.info website, explained that “if you rush the start, you end up hitting top speed earlier. It’s about building a rhythm so you (can) build top speed.”
American coach Rohsaan Griffin, who has been with Knott for over the past two years, offered no excuses for his ward’s lackluster outing.
“Not much to say, honestly. It’s her (Knott’s) first Olympic experience. Maybe her nerves got the best of her. Definitely not characteristic of what her training numbers indicated coming into today,” Griffin said.
“One thing is certain. There will be more tears than celebrations in a setting such as this, certainly small personal victories (that) can be celebrated if you are able to achieve them. Otherwise, everyone else shares the agony of defeat.”
“(But) the defining factor and true characteristic of a real champion is how you bounce back,” said Griffin, confident that Knott, a COVID-19 survivor, would be able to overcome this latest setback and move forward.
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