THE Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association (PATAFA) may now be pinning its hopes on talented Filipino-American athletes in the coming Tokyo Olympics and the Southeast Asian Games.
But there’s one homegrown athlete also expected to make a difference: Christine Hallasgo.
“Christine (Hallasgo) is really one of our brightest hopes in athletics right now,” said PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico during the 16th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Oct. 15.
Juico said the 27-year-old Southeast Asian Games and Milo Marathon champion is now deep in training in her home province in Malaybalay, Bukidnon despite several difficulties due to the lockdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
“She’s getting ready to see action again. She will fly to Singapore in the first week of December to take part in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon,” Juico told sports editors and reporters during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
Juico said Hallasgo will be hoping to get past the Olympic qualifying time of two hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds in women’s marathon.
But that could be easier said than done.
Her best time is two hours, 52 minutes and 23 seconds, established in winning the Milo Marathon in January .
The Tokyo Olympic cutoff has been pegged at 2:29.30.
“That’s her goal when she compete in Singapore on Dec. 6,” added Juico.
“Sa ngayon, hinihintay lang namin ang kanilang rules and regulations, pati yun protocols that will be observed by the organizers.”
If she makes it to Tokyo, Hallasgo will only be the second Filipina runner to compete in the Olympics after Mary Joy Tabal, who participated in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
In last year’s SEA Games in Manila, Hallasgo upset Tabal for the coveted gold medal in the 42-kilometer race in Capas, Tarlac..
Hallasgo clocked two hours, 56 minutes and 56 seconds against Tabal’s 2:58:49.
(Tabal’s time was 15 minutes off her personal best of 2:43:31).
Hallasgo is also expected to make it to the podium in the next SEA Games.
“After being quarantined in Manila in March, Hallasgo returned to Bukidnon to train along with her brother. It’s hard since there is no track oval in her hometown,” said Juico.
“We have a lot of good Fil-Ams right now. But for Philippine-based athletes, Hallasgo has the best chance.”