Kristina raring to go

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
Kristina raring to go
Fil-Am Kristina Knott
STAR / File

TOKYO, Philippines — Fil-Am Kristina Knott will run the race of her life when she makes her Olympic debut in the 200-meter event here Monday and said yesterday she’s more than ready to compete against the world’s best. Depending on the start list, there may be 16 or 24 in the semifinals before the eight finalists go for gold Tuesday.

Knott’s coach Roshaan Griffin said runners were being confirmed at presstime. If 56 competitors are lined up, seven heats will be scheduled to determine the top 24 to vie in the semifinals. Griffin said Knott would’ve gained the world ranking points to qualify for Tokyo outright but tested positive for the virus and was scratched from the Karlstad Grand Prix in Sweden last June. A mandatory five-day isolation knocked Knott out of contention. But she booked a ticket to Tokyo by claiming one of five universality slots with runners from Comoros, Pakistan, Singapore and South Sudan.

Knott, 25, holds the Philippine record of 23.01 and the Olympic qualifying standard is 22.8. Griffin said if Knott was cleared to compete in Sweden, she would’ve locked up an Olympic ticket without a universality place. Because another Fil-Am athlete Eric Cray was in contact with Knott to vie for an Olympic slot in Sweden, he, too, was sidelined despite testing negative and it meant failing to make it to Tokyo in hurdles. The day after testing positive, Knott went negative in PCR and antigen tests. She appeared to be a false positive but under tournament protocols, the result required a five-day isolation.

“Eric and I made a pact,” said Knott. “We’ll be in Paris in 2024.” Knott said it was Cray who opened her eyes to representing the Philippines. “I had just transferred from Arkansas State to the University of Miami and my roommate knew Eric, got me in contact with him and he talked about competing for the Philippines,” she said. “Then, that year, we had a team building exercise, it was called a vision board and, in my board, I put I wanted to run for the Philippines, it was just a thought. Fast forward to my senior year and one of my coaches knew coach Roshaan and asked if I still had aspirations to run for the Philippines. I said yes so we got in contact with (PATAFA president Philip) Mr. Juico and Eric guided me through the process.”

On a scale of 1 to 10, Knott said she’s at 16.42 ready to compete. “I’ve prepared three years for this,” said Knott whose mother Rizalina is from Imus.  “No pressure on Kristina,” said Griffin. “She’ll be out there to bring it and let’s see how it goes.” Knott warmed up in a training camp in Nagasaki for six days before landing in Tokyo last week. This year, she participated in 19 competitions in the US, Sweden and Italy.

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