PATAFA upbeat of Knott's Olympic chances after record-breaking performance

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2020 01:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines' athletics chief is optimistic that Kristina Knott will reach the Olympic qualifying mark, after the sprinter's record-breaking performance in a meet in Iowa last Saturday.

Knott broke Lydia de Vega's 33-year-old record in 100-meters after clocking at 11.27-seconds at the Drake Blue Oval Showcase in Des Moines, finishing in second place behind Kayla White of the United States (11.18 seconds).

Philip Juico, the head of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), said Knott's feat was "even more noteworthy given the very complex pandemic situation."

"To begin with, Kristina 'had not raced enough,' in the words of her sprint coach Rohsaan Griffin," Juico said in a statement to ABS-CBN News. "Despite the lack of competitive races, PATAFA embarked on a hybrid skills and strength conditioning program."

Knott stayed in shape with the help of online training sessions with her coach as well as strength and conditioning trainer Catlo Buzzichelli. Thus, she was ready to race at the Drake Blue Oval Showcase, an event that featured Olympians and members of Team USA.

Her coaches had hoped to enter Knott in the 200-meters, but she was not given a slot in the event by organizers as it was "packed with sub-23 second runners," according to Juico. But Knott "was ready to run at any distance," and gave a good account of herself in the 100-meters though it was not her pet event.

"Despite the lack of competition, she has not peaked yet," Juico said of Knott. "Griffin emphasized… she can definitely improve with more races."

According to her coach, Knott's time of 11.27 seconds puts her on track to qualify for both the 200-meters and 100-meters in the Tokyo Olympics.

The qualifying standard for 200-meters is 22.80 seconds and Knott currently holds the Philippine record with a time of 23.01 seconds in that distance, set during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. For the 100-meters, the Olympic qualifying time is 11.15 seconds.

"Kristina is .09 second away from the Olympic qualifying standard in the 200 meters, and 0.12 second away from the Tokyo qualifying standard in the 100," Juico said.

"I am hopeful that with almost a year from Tokyo, the increasing number of competitions, the well-coordinated approach of Buzzichelli and Griffin, the single-minded determination of Kristina, and the forthcoming additional support of the PSC and PATAFA's willingness to invest in all its athletes and coaches, Kristina may get a berth in both events," he added.

The Philippines has already qualified four athletes for next year's Tokyo Games -- pole vaulter EJ Obiena, boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial, and gymnast Carlos Yulo.

Juico believes that aside from Knott, at least four other Filipino athletes can still make it to Tokyo -- Eric Cray in the 400-meter hurdles, William Morrison in shot put, Natalie Uy in pole vault, and Christine Hallasgo in marathon.