Knott’s landing
SPORTS EYE - Raffy Uytiepo (The Freeman) - September 15, 2020 - 12:00am

In the Philippine Athletics Championship in Ilagan City last year, Fil-Am sprinter Kristina Knott promised it won’t be long before she breaks Lydia De Vega’s 33 year old records in the 100m and 200m sprints. “Hambugera ning bayhana da,” I said to myself. But down deep inside, I knew she had the potential to do so.  Knott made true her promise by smashing not only De Vega’s Philippine record in the 200m but the SEA Games mark as well.  She broke the meet record twice in one day at the New Clark City oval in Tarlac.  Knott clocked 23:01 seconds to shatter the 18-year old record of Supavadee Khawpeag of Thailand.  By doing so, she also broke the national record of 23:16 submitted by another Fil-Am Zion Corrales Nelson in the US NCAA last May.  Corrales Nelson earlier broke the 33 year-old record of De Vega (23:50). Knott also said in Ilagan City:“I want to take all her  records, no offense, but they’ve been up too long and it’s time for some fresh meat to get the records”.  Knott finished with three gold medals in the Philippine Athletics Championship in Ilagan City. Two weeks ago, Knott again made her promise when she smashed De Vega’s 100m record in the Drake Blue Oval Showcase, an athletic event in Iowa, U.S.A.  Knott eclipsed De Vega’s 1987 SEGA Games Jakarta record of 11:28 when she clocked 11:27.  Actually, it was the closest of margins, one hundredth, of a second, but a win is still is win.  “Naa jud ibuga si Kristina Knott diay”.  Congratulations Kristina, you are just 0.09 seconds away in the 100m 2021 Tokyo Olympics qualifying time and 0:12 seconds in the 200m.

EJ Obiena

When I was pounding the track oval of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Vito Cruz, Malate some 14 years ago, I would notice a thin 13-year old in a corner watching his father train. Yes, the kid, EJ Obiena always accompany his father, SEA Games veteran pole-vaulter Emerson Obiena to the oval. I haven’t seen the young boy since, until he started to make waves in the same sport as his father. Emerson became my teammate in the National Masters Athletics Team (a team composed of athletes 40 years and above). Our members included former Asia’s fastest woman Mona Suliman, Linda Lavandia, Elma Muros and Asian Games veterans Bong Pelosis, Romy Sotto and Lolit Lagrosas.  Just recently Obiena, stunned some heavily favored Olympic medalists when he snared the gold medal in the 59th Ostrava Golden Spike Tournament in the Czech Republic.  Obiena cleared 5.74 meters, his season’s personal best, beating the likes of former world record holder and 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Renaud Lavillenie of France, who also cleared 5.74m but settled for a silver via a countback, 2017 and 2019 world champion Sam Kendricks of the USA who salvaged the bronze with a 5.64m. Kendrick’s also won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.  Brazilian Thiago Braz,  gold medal winner in Rio, was a dismal  fourth, after clearing 5.64m.  Just to show you how strong the competition was. The tournament also included 2013 World champion Raphael Holzdeppe of Germany and Poland’s Pawel Wojciechowski, the 2011 world titlist.  Obiena is now a marked man in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.  Well, it might just be in athletics that the Philippines will win its first gold medal in almost a century.  The only Filipino to win a medal in athletics in the Olympics is Miguel White who won a bronze in the 400 hurdles in the 1936 Berlin Games.  Obiena continues to train with Thiago Braz in Formia, Italy under Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov.  As I was finishing this column, news came that Obiena won a bronze medal in the Pozman Athletics Gran Prix in Poland last Saturday.

COVID outsprints bolt

Not even the fastest man on earth could outsprint the deadly Covid-19. Jaimaica’s Usain Bolt, eight-time Olympic gold medalist, tested positive after celebrating his 34th birthday with a big bash. Of course, Bolt is asymptomatic, who said he doesn’t feel anything.  But just the same, he self-isolate in his home in Kingston.  How ironic, Bolt and his guests were partying all night, dancing to hit “Lockdown” by Jamaican reggae singer Koffee “Na lockdown jud si Usain”.

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