WITH the women’s pole vault Olympic qualifying standard of 4.70 meters out of her reach for now, Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Natalie Uy is looking for another option in her bid to secure a ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games next year.
“If I get into the top 32 world rankings of the women’s pole vault I might just have a shot (at Tokyo),” Uy, 25, said in a recent online interview with pinoyathletics.info.
In her latest outing, the comely pole vaulter ruled the Atlanta leg of the American Track league with a vault of 4.11 meters over the weekend.
This was a far cry from her current national record of 4.25 meters set in clinching the gold medal in the 30th SEA Games at the New Clark City Athletic Stadium in Capas, Tarlac last December.
Last July 18, the former Eastern Michigan University varsity standout cleared 4.30 meters, which would have gone done as a new national mark, in topping the Acadia Invitational in Greenville, South Carolina, matching her personal best.
But World Athletics did not recognize it as an official record in results posted on the global athletic body’s website. The Fil-Am athlete is No. 74 in the world ratings.
“That event might not have met World Athletics standards,” noted track and field coach Andrew Pyrie, a former Philippine Sports Commission statistician, who runs the athletic website.
Even at her best height, Uy is still 40 centimeters (15.478 inches) short of the Olympic qualifying standard.
“I believe I still have a good shot if get 4:55 or 4:60 meters in the coming months,” said Uy, who was supposed to compete in the Asian indoor and world indoor athletic championships early this year until both events scheduled in China were scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pyrie said that 17 out of the 32 Olympic slots for the women’s pole vault in the Tokyo Olympic Games have been clinched “so Natalie will have a lot of catching up to do,” adding the final cut would be made in June 2021.
Uy acknowledged that given the prevailing conditions in the US, the 1 country with the most novel coronavirus infections, looking for meets to see action in was difficult, adding that she needs the proper training conditions to remain in competitive shape.
“It’s difficult to find the right training situation, the right coaches, the right everything,” she noted. “It’s been quite a difficult ride to get there.”
So Uy was grateful for the postponement of the Olympics “because it gives me time to get those things on the track to go well.”
She admitted maintaining her Olympic quest was an expensive proposition, pointing out that her poles alone cost from $500 to P$800 (around P25,000 to P40,000).
“This lifestyle costs a lot. Basically it’s the sustainability of this lifestyle,” Uy explained. “If I am seeing those marks and jumping higher then I’ll be motivated to continue jumping. But if things don’t go well, it might be best to take a new path later on.”
But she was not about to easily give up on her Olympic dream, saying: “My goal is to keep my eyes on the prize and not get distracted.”