CAPAS, Tarlac — After making golden debut in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Nathalie Rose Uy said she would continue training and take a crack at qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“I believe I really have a chance of meeting,” the 25-year-old Uy said, referring to the Olympics’ cut-off height of 4.7 meters.
Uy ruled the women’s pole in record-breaking style in front of an appreciative hometown crowd at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium here on Sunday night.
Cheered on by the predominantly Filipino gallery of 8,000, Uy cleared 4.25 meters to tie her own national mark while smashing the old SEAG record of 4.21 meters set by Thai Sukanya Chomcuendee in the 2013 edition held Myanmar.
Winding up a distant second was defending champion Chomchuendee Chayanisa (4.10) while compatriot Chontincha Khabut (4.00) settled for bronze in Day 2 of track and field action at the 20,000-seat stadium.
The Dayton, Ohio native, whose father is a Filipino, emerged as the first Filipina pole vaulter in the SEAG history to bag a gold and capped a Filipino sweep of the event also for the first time at the Games after Ernest John Obiena easily clinched the mint in the men’s side the previous day also in record fashion.
Former national athlete Edward Lasquete, who discovered Uy and watched her golden exploit near the pole vault area, pointed out that the Olympic-bound Obiena also broke a 24-year-old dry spell in the meet since he himself won the gold medal in the 1995 SEA Games in Chiangmai, Thailand.
Uy’s triumph somehow softened the impact of the losses suffered earlier by Kristina Marie Knott in the century dash after topping the women’s 200-meter run last Saturday.
Vietnam’s Le Tu Chinh avenged her loss to the Knott in the 200, nipping her Fil-Am rival at the tape in retaining her 100-meter title in 11.54 seconds to the latter’s 11.55. Singapore veteran Shanti Veronica Perreira (11.66) took the bronze.
The other PH entry, Zion Corrales Nelson, finished last among the eight runners in 11.90 seconds.
“This (victory) is absolutely amazing and I’ve been enjoying the journey so far. The crowd was so nice and I was inspired by them” said Uy, who now trains full-time at Kentucky League Athletics managed by Earl Bell, the bronze medalist in the pole vault at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
With the gold safely tucked under her belt after clearing 4.25 meters, the winsome athlete set the bar at 4.35 meters but discontinued after two failed tries, then waved to the crowd in gratitude for their support.
She also hugged athletics head Philip Ella Juico, who arrived just in time to witness Uy’s golden performance.
Mariano Masano pulled off a pleasant surprise, securing the silver in the men’s 1,500-meter run in 4:08.27 behind Vietnam’s Duong Van Thai, who ruled the event in 4:06.63.
Action resumes on Monday with Fil-Am Carter Lilly tipped to add the country’s fifth mint in the men’s 800-meter run. (PNA)