ILAGAN – Looks like Philippine athletics has a new darling.
Filipino-American Natalie Uy debuted for the national team in style as she ruled the women’s pole vault event in record-breaking fashion on opening day of the 2019 Ayala-Philippine Athletics Championship Wednesday afternoon here at the Ilagan City Sports Complex.
The pretty 5’6” newcomer vaulted for 4.12 meters right in her first try to shatter an 11-year national women’s record of 4.11 meters recorded by Deborah Samson at the 2008 California Regionals.
“I was a little nervous the whole week but I just had to go out and play today,” said the Ohio native, who waited for seven months before finally wearing the Philippine colors. “It’s incredible. I’m very happy how it went out today. I’m just really happy to come over here.”
She was supposed to play for the Philippine flag as early as the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, but her papers weren’t ready at the time. She secured her Philippine passport in mid-August last year.
Uy’s record leap would have been a sure gold in the Southeast Asian Games, too, as the winning mark of Chayanesa Chomchuendee in the 2017 edition of the biennial meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia only stood at 4.1 meters.
Expect more from Uy, who has a personal-best 4.30 meters achieved in Spain last year.
“Absolutely! Yes, I can do better than this,” added the 24-year-old pole vaulter, whose father Henry Uy hails from Cebu. “With more training, yes, I can do better. I’m excited to train and bring home the gold this coming SEA Games.”
Her national teammates Alyana Nicolas and Riezel Buenaventura grabbed the silver and bronze medals with 3.80 and 3.40 meters, respectively, in the tournament organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and supported by the City of Ilagan, Ayala, Milo, Philippine Sports Commission, Soleus, L.TimeStudio, Cherrylume, Foton, Asian Athletics Association and the International Association of Athletics Federation.
In the 10,000 meters earlier, Philippine Army’s Richard Salaño seized the trackfest’s first gold with a clocking of 31 minutes and 42.31 seconds, barely winning over Philippine Air Force’s Rafael Poliquit (31:42:96) and Anthony Nerza (31:43:89).
The Army Corporal Salaño is now looking at a potential three-gold medal harvest as he also shoots for the titles in the men’s 3,000-meter steeple chase and the 5,000 meters in the next two days of the three-day trackfest serving as his preparation for his SEA Games’ debut. The national team member Salaño clinched all the said events last year en route to his promotion from a Private First Class and more importantly, to his inclusion to the national athletics’ team.
Meanwhile, Majayjay, Bukidnon native Christine Hallasgo ran away with the women’s 10,000 meters’ gold with a time of 38 minutes and 39.27 seconds, beating Janice Nerza (42:36:27) of Air Force and Maria Lyka Sarmiento (46:36:08) of Adamso.
On the other hand, Veteran Janry Ubas jumped 7.55 meters to win the men’s long jump over last year’s champion Julian Fuentes and boost his chances of getting his slot back on the national team after being dropped last year.
Malaysia SEAG bronze medalist Fil-Am Donovant Arriola only managed to finish sixth place with 7.07 meters.
National team mainstays Daynata Daniella (women’s discus throw) and Angel Carino (women’s triple jump) won gold medals in their events later in the afternoon.
Even the young guns had a piece of the spotlight.
National junior record holder Ed Deliña of University of the Philippines threw the metal plate by 44.75 meters to clinch the discus throw gold medal over Adamson’s Daniel Rambacal (40.40 meters) and UE’s Brian Alas (36.70 meters).
The hurl of Delina, a multiple gold medalist at the Palarong Pambansa, fell just half a meter short of his standing junior record of 45.11 meters he did at the Philippine Weekly Relays last October.
Two days removed from his Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships gold triumph, Ilagan City pride Hokket Delos Santos struck for another gold in the boys’ pole vault as the 16-year-old Sta. Barbara National High School bet even bettered his 4.2 meters in the SEAYAC with his 4.30 meters.