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Santos hopes to approach jump, time to solidify slot in Philippine team

ON OUR WAY. Baguio grown Katherin Santos, who seeks slots in the Philippine team in events like long jump and 100 meter relay have a selfie with members of the athletics national team while being ferried to the Baguio athletic bowl early morning for training. The athletes will see action in the Philippine Athletics Championship on December 16 and 17 at the same venue. Selfie by Kath Santos

With a week to go to the Philippines Athletics Championships, Baguio’s top athletics player, Katherine Santos, needs yet to improve on her jump and speed.

The former Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist in long jump hopes to break 6.17 meters in said event and approach her personal best time of 11.99 to qualify for the women’s 100 meters relay.

Santos this week cleared 5.90 and 5.86 in her return to the track after three years to raise her only child.

“(I need) (6).17 to qualify but then at this time athletes may not need to hit the qualifying mark as long as it is near it, that is counted since we only had a few months to prepare,” said the Baguio City High School product.

“Although we still have to give our best to get the target mark so that it will be safe to say that we qualify for the national team,” she added.

The Ayala backed PAC that will be held in Baguio on December 16 and 17 was delayed by a week after it was moved from the University of Life in Pasig to baguio due to repairs being done there. It will see more than 40 members – past and present – of the national team who seek to formalize their slots for the delayed 2021 Southeast Asian Games which will be hosted by Hanoi, Vietnam on May next year.

Santos is seeking slots in long jump along with former Olympian Marastella Torres-Sunang and in the 4 x 100 meters relay.

It is back to basics for Santos as she shakes off rustiness after taking a leave from the national team after the 2017 SEAG in Malaysia.

“I really want to play again after three years of lay off and raising my child who will serve as my inspiration to seek SEAG honors,” said Santos, a product of Dona Aurora Elementary School where she started her career.

Santos will be seeking a slot in long jump along with 40-year old Torres-Sunang, the country’s 1-2 punch in the event for almost a decade.

“Right now I am focused on my training and ate (Torres-Sunang) is also doing the same. And although we are training together here in baguio, I really don’t know how she is faring, we really don’t talk about our respective trainings,” said Santos when asked how her long jump mark is compared to the former SEAG gold medalist. Torres – Sunang, who at 40, needs to still compete since no new athletes particularly in her event have cropped up with all competitions cancelled due to the pandemic.

Philippine Track and Field Association chief Philip Ella Juico is not expecting much from the PAC competing athletes, who will be beefed by at least a 100 more athletes including locals.

“We’re not after the best performance now. We just want to keep you fit,” said Juico quoting coach Jeoff Chua during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum last Tuesday.

He said that the athletes have been training for only two months and when the team won 11 gold medals in the 2019 SEAG edition in Manila, they had a six months preparation

In the same forum, Chua have already told the athletes to the expectations are low as he added that they only gave the athletes a “chance to perform.”

He added that two months is not enough to get the athletes in to shape and compete in the highest level.

The goal, Chua said in the forum, is for the athletes to be fit by January next year.

He added that PATAFA’s goal is to see that the athletes have a 50 percent improvement from the time training camp started (in October) until the PAC.

The PATAFA has slated 18 events in the men’s and women’s division for the two day competitions sans marathon due to Covid-19 protocols.SEAG marathon queen Christine Hallasgo is now slated to compete in the 10,000 meter run instead.

Participants to the events, including Baguio athletes, who will pull of an upset against national athletes, will be considered in the national pool, Juico added.

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