OlminLeyba (The Philippine Star) –
CITY OF ILAGAN, Philippines — After a failed bid to see action for the Philippines in last year’s Asian Games, Fil-Am pole vaulter Natalie Uy is glad to be finally home and good to don the Phl colors in future international meets like the coming Southeast Asian Games that the country is hosting.
“It’s like a dream come true for me to come here,” said top medal prospect Uy, who will be among the elite tracksters set to compete n the 2019 Philippine Athletics Championships beginning Wednesday at the City of Ilagan Sports Complex here. “I’ve been working towards coming home for a while, working on my citizenship and get past all the hurdles to get here so to be here finally is incredible.”
The 24-year-old Uy, whose father is from Cebu, secured her Philippine passport in August 2018 – too late for a stint in the Asiad, where athletics chief Philip Ella Juico tipped her to contend for a podium finish given her personal best of 4.20 meters.
And now the former Eastern Michigan U star is looking forward to suiting up in the SEAG, along with another US-based pole vaulter Alyana Nicolas.
“I’d love to compete in the SEA Games,” said Uy, tipped to surpass the winning 4.10m mark in 2017. “I’m ready to win.I feel very confident. If I can get the right training, get everything I need like poles and get things in place, I think I can go for gold.”
Nicolas expressed similar sentiment joining Team Phl.
“I’m very excited, Filipino people here are very welcoming. It’s really fun to see everybody working together and I’m really excited for all the people watching and cheering us even in practice. It’s awesome,” said Nicolas, who’s training with former Phl star Edward Lasquete.
Nicolas, whose personal best was 3.93m, targets to hit 4.20m, the qualifying mark for the Asian Championships in Doha later in the year.
Meanwhile, comebacking Donovan Arriola, the 2015 SEAG long jump bronze medalist, sets out to win back his spot in the Phl team after a bout with injury the last two years.
“The main goal is to make it back to the national team and the SEA Games, that’s why I’m here,” said El Paso, Texas-based Arriola, owner of the standing national record of 7.64m, which he posted in 2015 in Albuquerque.
He looks forward to a friendly competition with current nationals JanryUbas and Julian Fuentes in the Philippine Athletics Championships.
“They always compete well and they’re good competitors. We competed several times so I’m sure they’re hoping to beat me,” said Arriola, winner of the 2016 National Open.