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Olympic slots wide open for athletics

MANILA, Philippines — Three months are left for PATAFA hopefuls to hit the entry standard or rack up qualifying points from competitions in claiming tickets to the Paris Olympics with six athletes and a 4x400m men’s relay team in contention to join pole vaulter EJ Obiena in the delegation.

“The rankings of our Olympic hopefuls may still change as the deadline for qualification is until the end of June,” said PATAFA secretary-general Jasper Tanhueco. “Performance in upcoming competitions and participation could impact their standings. If they meet the standard, they won’t need to compete further and can focus solely on preparing for the Olympics. We’re providing them with more opportunities to either meet the standard or improve their rankings. Hopefully, more will qualify.”

Since Obiena has qualified outright, the Philippines has only one slot remaining for a female via the universality route if no other athlete makes it. “It’s only one entry of the opposite sex as EJ is the only qualified as of now,” explained Tanhueco. “We could send a female candidate for the universality slot if no one else will qualify.”

Tanhueco said PATAFA is rolling out a large platform of competitions for athletes to make the Olympic grade. The events include the ICTSI Philippine Athletics Open, Hong Kong Championships, Taiwan Open, Kinami Memorial and Seiko Golden in Japan and the United Arab Emirates Grand Prix. “Some meets are in the US for Fil-Ams like the Texas Relays,” he added. “In June, we’re planning to join competitions in Europe for selected athletes, depending on their rankings. There is also the Penn Relays in the US on April 27 and hopefully, our team will qualify for the World Relays in the Bahamas on May 4-5.”

The Olympic contenders are John Cabang, 22 (110m hurdles), Lauren Hoffman, 24 (400m hurdles), Robyn Brown, 29 (400m hurdles), Janry Ubas, 30 (long jump), Eric Cray, 35 (400m hurdles), Kristina Knott, 28 (200m) and the 4x400 men’s relay team of Mico del Prado, Frederick Ramirez, Joyme Sequita and Umajesty Williams. Cray competed in the 2016 Olympics and Knott, in the 2020 Games.