Nearly 700 bets take part in Philippine Athletics Championships

Nearly 700 bets take part in Philippine Athletics Championships
From left: Relli De Leon, Jasper Tanhueco and Jeoffrey Chua

MANIILA, Philippines – Close to 700 athletes, including the country’s finest and bets from nine foreign countries, will see action in the Philippine Athletics Championships scheduled May 8-12 at the PhilSports track oval in Pasig City.

The competition is expected to be as fierce and as hot as the summer weather as the event, formerly known as the Philippine National Open, returns to Metro Manila after being staged in Ilagan in Isabela the past few years.

“It’s back in Manila,” said Relli de Leon, special assistant to PATAFA president Terry Capistrano, during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

“That’s why we expect a bigger crowd and more records to be broken especially by the local athletes,” added De Leoon, who was joined by PATAFA secretary-general Jasper Tanhueco and national team coach Jeoffrey Chua.

Chua told the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, PSC, Philippine Olympic Committee, PLDT/Smart, MILO and ArenaPlus, the leading sports entertainment gateway in the Philippines, that foreign bets will come from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.

“We expect around 60 foreign athletes and those with Filipino heritage, and we see more to come after we extended the deadline for registration to April 30,” said Tanhueco of the event presented by ICTSI as title sponsor.

Leading the charge of the Filipino athletes still seeking berths to the Paris Olympics in July are Filipino-American sprinter Lauren Hoffman, Fil-Spanish John Cabang Tolentino, Asian champion Robyn Brown, and Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Eric Cray, Janry Ubas and Kristina Knott.

They are seeking tickets to Paris via meeting the Olympic standard or making the top 40 ranking.

"They will be present," said Chua, who added that aside from the elite athletes, there will also be competition for Under-14, Under-18 and Under-20.

“It’s an international event and it’s wide open,” said Chua, noting the presence of top Filipino athletes who are still vying for slots to the Paris Olympics in July.

Because of the intense summer heat that reaches the 40s, competition begins earlier at 5:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. before it goes on a break and resumes at 3:30 p.m. all the way to the finals in the evening.

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