PH athletics national open to serve as Olympic qualifier
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) is targetting a major competition restart in December 2020 as the annual national open will serve as a qualifier to the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Being a non-contact sport, athletics is one of the sporting events that are allowed to resume in modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) – jumpstarting the federation's plans to continue its Road to Tokyo 2020. (READ: Live sports to resume in MGCQ, but not basketball)
"The national open will have to be on the first week of December and will be the qualifier to the Olympics," PATAFA president Philip Juico said in an online press conference with Philippine media.
PATAFA is planning to stage the competition in the Philsports Complex in Pasig, which is currently being used as a quarantine facility. Juico is also expecting collegiate athletes from the UAAP and NCAA to join, while schools maintain strict protocols on physical activity.
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena was the first Filipino to qualify for the Olympics and the only athlete from PATAFA who has made the cut.
Hurdler Eric Cray, sprinter Kristina Knott, pole vaulter Natalite Uy, and shot putter William Morrison continue to vie for their maiden Olympic berths. 2016 Rio Olympian Mary Joy Tabal is targetting a return to the quadrennial meet, which has been postponed to July 2021.
Even though he has qualified for the global sports showpiece, Obiena plans to join the national open to compete in front of his countrymen once again.
"I think it's a good competition to start in. It's a big one so I want to be there," said Obiena, who is slated to return to the Philippines for a break in December.
The national athletes are ramping up their training as World Athletics aims to open the season in August with the 2020 Diamond League, which Obiena hopes to join. – Rappler.com