Sports

Track tryouts set as PH wants strongest team


Two years removed from its magnificent finish in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, the Philippine national track and field team is dead set on sending only the strongest lineup possible to the resumption of the 11-nation sportsfest next year in Hanoi.

The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) made sure that only the most competent bets will suit up for Team Philippines in the 2022 Vietnam SEA Games after jacking up the qualifying standards in all events in the Ayala Philippine Athletics Championships set on Dec. 9-10.

Serving as the national open championships of the Patafa, the Ayala Philippine Athletics Championships will witness the finest track and field athletes in the country at Philsports Track and Field Oval in Pasig City, the agency’s first event since the COVID-19 health crisis began early last year.

“We have raised the standards in all events because this will serve as the tryouts for the SEA Games. They have to meet those standards for them to earn slots in the team,’’ said Patafa president Philip Ella Juico.

Crowds will still not be allowed during the two-day national tryouts where over 160 tracksters from 19 events each for men and women will be taking part in.

“This will be a new lineup for next year’s SEA Games where we intend to sustain or even surpass our performance in the previous SEA Games,’’ said Juico.

Team Philippines collected 11 gold medals, eight silvers and eight bronzes in the 2019 SEA Games held at Clark New City in Capas, Tarlac, so far the country’s best output in decades.

Juico made it clear that nobody from among the current crop of athletes under the Patafa program is guaranteed of spots, including eight Filipino-foreigners based overseas as they will see action in events where they are based as part of their tryouts.

At least 30 athletes will be enlisted as members of the national track and field team after the national open trials.

Olympians Eric Cray (400 meter hurdles) and Kristina Knott (200m) will open their respective bids in the United States as well as thrower William Morrison, sprinters Zion Corrales Nelson, twins Kyla and Kayla Richardson, pole vaulter Natalie Uy and Fil-Moroccans Said and Yacine Guermali (800m and 1500m). INQ

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