Facing tall order in Tokyo, Knott targets semis first

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FILE – The Philippines’ Kristina Marie Knott celebrates after winning in the women’s 200m final during the athletics competition in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at Athletics Stadium in New Clark City, Tarlac province, northern Philippines on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

MANILA, Philippines — Kristina Knott set a modest goal on her first Olympic campaign: Make the semifinals and then move on from there.

The 25-year-old Knott, two-time Southeast Asian Games champ, will compete in the games’ centerpiece event women’s 200-meter dash starting July 31.

Philippine athletics deputy head of delegation Edward Kho told Sports Radio that she will undergo five-day training camp in Nagasaki before the start of competitions in Tokyo.

“Her target is to make the semifinals,” said Kho. “There are 40 competitors in her event and only 24 will make the semis.”

He said there are five heats and top four runners of each heat will automatically while the other four slots will be given based on times.

“We want to make the top four in the heat so we can be assured,” added Kho.

It’s tall odds for the American-based Knott, whose best performance of 23.01 seconds is already the national record.

She will be competing against a tough field that includes American runners Allyson Felix (21.69 seconds) and Gabrielle Thomas (21.61 seconds) who have submitted historic times.

The other Filipino bet, Asian and SEAG pole vault champion Ernest John Obiena was set to arrive in Tokyo within the week.

Kho said Obiena has flown in a second set of poles just in case his own poles got delayed. Due to the size of the equipment, they are having a hard time getting domestic flights that could accommodate the poles.

Obiena is competing on Aug. 2 with an equally daunting field to contend with including world record holder Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and reigning Olympics champ Thiago Braz of Brazil.

Duplantis norms 6.18 meters, while Braz holds the Olympic mark of 6.03m. Obiena has a personal best of 5.85m.

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