Pinay vaulter Natalie Uy works through injury, as Olympic quest continues

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2020 12:04 AM

Having an injured left hand doesn't mean Natalie Uy will stop training.

In fact, the US-based Filipina pole vaulter campaigning to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics has found other ways to train to keep herself in shape.

"Right now I'm running a lot. I can do leg exercises, different types of body-weight exercises," said the reigning Southeast Asian Games champion.

Uy moved from Kettering, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia to train under coach and former world men’s pole-vault champion Brad Walker. 

But the 25-year-old fractured her right hand during training when her pole broke into two.

"A pole actually broke in half, actually so I was practicing normal in training . . . It broke in half so I fractured my wrist," Uy said.

Doctors said it will take 2 months at most for her hand to heal, although she hopes to return to vaulting in a month's time.

"But we'll see. It's healing for 5 weeks, so there's 3 to 4 more weeks," she said.

Training was actually going well for her, as she broke the Philippine record she set in the recent Southeast Asian Games.

During the Games, Uy cleared 4.25 meters to beat Thai champion Sukanya Chomchuendee. This was broken at the Acadia Invitational in Greenville, North Carolina, last July when she cleared 4.30 meters.

Uy was able to complete the feat amid a pandemic.

"I wasn't able to train with my coach during the pandemic, it really affected me. I wasn't able to get her insights so it was actually difficult and so there weren't any competitions at that time," she said.

Uy must clear the 4.70-meter Olympic standard or make it inside the Top 32 after the qualifiers to book a ticket to the 2021 Games.

Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) chief Philip Juico said Uy is fortunate since the injury timed with the athletics season break.

"September mag-o-off naman talaga sila, magpapahinga. Babalik 'yan sa competitions mga December," said Juico.

"Talagang common 'yung ganoong injury sa vaulter."

Uy said she planned to begin vaulting again by October.

This time she'll be using the things she learned from coach Walker.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can and see what we can do," she said.