Fil-American Kristina Knott, who tested positive of COVID-19 last Tuesday, is the 15th qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics.
Now grounded in Sweden with her coach and another Filipino-American Olympic aspirant in Eric Cray, Knott was among four tracksters in the women’s 200-meter dash who made it to the quadrennial meet via the universality places ruling.
The 25-year-old Knott, who travelled to Sweden with her coach Rohsaan Griffin and Rio Olympics’ veteran Cray, learned of her qualification to the Olympics, while confined and undergoing a five-day isolation period in Karlstad, Sweden.
Knott, whose Olympic ranking rose from 62 to 39th place, was inside her hotel room when she got to know about her Olympic status.
This was hours after the organizers of the Karlstad Grand Prix athletics meet informed of her asymptomatic condition and pulled her out of her competitions in the women’s 100-meter and 200-meter events.
Cray’s activities were also affected as he was no longer allowed to join the men’s 110-meter hurdles even if he tested negative.
“Now that she’s on the table, she just has to show that she deserves to be there (Olympics),” said Griffin on Zoom, while in a huddle with scribes and officials of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.
Griffin, who is in isolation himself in his hotel room, said Knott has been fully vaccinated before they left Texas, having taken two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
“She is grounded and confined for five days,” said Griffin, who added that they were supposed to be in the Kuortane Games in Finland.
The group will have to cancel their plans to go there.
Griffin said Knott will go into a training camp in Austin, Texas once she is able to return to the US, to get back in shape.
Knott’s participation in Tokyo was confirmed, eight days before the June 29 cutoff period.
“You have to deserve it. It’s not an automatic thing. She was right there, in the middle of it. Her rankings were within striking distance of qualification,” said PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico, who was informed by officials of World Athletics of Knott’s status yesterday morning.
Juico went into a meeting with Philippine Olympic Committee president and Tagaytay Rep. Abraham Tolentino and Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez after conferring with officials of World Athletics on Knott’s situation.
Under the universality rule, member countries in athletics may enter one male athlete and one female athlete, regardless of time, if they have no athletes of that gender meeting the entry standard.
Knott was among four who were given a universality placing next to Singapore’s Veronica Shanti Pereira, South Sudan’s Lucia Moris and Guðbjörg Jóna Bjarnadóttir of Iceland.
She joins weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz (-55 kg) and Elreen Ando (-64kg), flyweight boxer Carlo Paalam, middleweight Eumir Marcial, flyweight Irish Magno, featherweight Nesthy Petecio; gymnast Caloy Yulo; pole vaulter EJ Obiena, jin Kurt Barbosa, rower Cris Nievarez, skateboarder Margie Didal, shooter Jayson Valdez, golfer Juvic Pagunsan and Fil-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.
Watanabe officially earned her spot in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics after the International Judo Federation published the final and official qualification list on Tuesday.
She made it via continental quota in the women’s -63 kg after placed 41st place with 1506 points.
Pagunsan officially became the 13th Filipino to qualify for the Summer Games when he formally clinched a spot in the 60-man field during the final cutoff done in the men’s division this week by the International Golf Federation.
The Top 15 in the world rankings, with a limit of four players from each country, advanced directly to the Olympics.
Pagunsan is coming off his first-ever Japan Golf Tour title romp as he ruled the Mizuno Open in May.
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