MANILA, Philippines -- The head of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) has no doubt that Kristina Knott, the country's sprint queen, can qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
The 25-year-old already owns the national records in both the 100m (11.27 seconds) and 200m (23.01 seconds). Both times are still short of the Olympic qualifying standard, but PATAFA chief Philip Ella Juico believes Knott can reach the marks soon.
"Kristina is shy, a little off both the 100- and 200-m standards," said Juico during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum this week. "She can either qualify outright, or by ranking, although we prefer she qualifies outright."
The Olympic qualifying time for the 100m is 11.15 seconds, and for the 200m, 22.80 seconds.
If she doesn't reach the standard, Knott can still make it to the Olympics via universality places, but the runner has said in a previous interview that she wants to hit the qualifying times.
"I want to earn my spot. I'm here because I ran fast enough to hit the qualifying time," Knott has said. "So the whole betting on the, oh we're gonna send one girl. I don't want it that way. I want to qualify."
Juico is similarly confident that Knott can reach the qualifying times, especially after her performance in the Drake Blue Oval Showcase in Iowa last August wherein she broke Lydia de Vega's 33-year-old record in the century dash.
Knott clocked 11.27 seconds in that meet, behind Kayla White of the United States who ran a season-best 11.18-seconds.
"Kristina told me after she won second place in a tournament in Iowa, she said, 'Sir, there's a lot more in the tank,'" Juico revealed. "She just came off a seven-month layoff because of the pandemic, and she was able to do that."
"So there's a lot of potential in her, and I'm very confident," he added. "She's only 25, and she's good for at least two Olympics."
Knott took a break from competition in September, but Juico said she is now set to return to training. Her indoor season is set to start in early February.
She is aiming to join pole vaulter EJ Obiena, boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial, and gymnast Carlos Yulo in the Tokyo Games that will take place from July 23 to August 8.