ILAGAN CITY — After a long wait, Filipino-American pole vaulters Natalie Uy and Alyana Nicolas will finally be out to prove their worth when they compete in the coming 2019 Philippine National Open Athletics Championships starting this Wednesday here at the Ilagan City Sports Complex.
And they vow to make the most out of this opportunity against regional counterparts in a bid to start their build-up on a high note for the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) set here Nov.30 to Dec. 14.
“I’m looking to win here for sure. My goal always is to win. My target is to jump around 4.20 meters,” said Uy whose father is a Cebuano. “In the SEAG, I’m very confident. I think if I can get the right training and get everything I need, I think I can go for gold.”
To do this, the 24-year-old Uy seeks to clear her personal-best of 4.30 meters, which she tallied last year in Spain, where she spent most of her training while waiting for her citizenship.
Her 4.30-m pole vault leap is more than enough to shatter the winning 4.10-m in the 2017 SEAG in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Uy could have campaigned for the national team as early as last year in the Asian Games, but she only secured her Philippine passport mid-August at the height of the said quadrennial sports showpiece in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
“I’m just excited to be here. It’s a dream come true for me to come here,” added the Eastern Michigan University standout.
“It’s all worth it to be here. It’s just awesome. I love being here. It’s just, like I said, a dream. I’ve been working to come here for a while, working on my citizenship and figuring out all the hurdles to get here,” she said.
For now, however, Uy is just relishing her golden chance to learn the Philippine culture which she has been longing to embrace after spending most of her life in Ohio.
“I was not able to get my citizenship unfortunately. It’s a long process to get everything. I’m just excited to finally have my passport on hand,” said Uy.
“It’s my heritage. It’s me. My dad is Filipino. It’s a channel to me to get to know my culture, the other half of me.”
Organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and supported by Ayala Corporation, Milo, Soleus and the City of Ilagan, the three-day national open will run from March 6-8 here at the Isabela capital.
Like Uy, Nicolas is just so thrilled to finally be back in the Philippines after moving to the US since her childhood.
“I was born here actually. I was born in Quezon City but I grew up in Pagsanjan, Laguna,” the 24-year-old vaulter from California State Northridge said.
“I’m very excited. The Filipino people here are very welcoming. It’s really fun to see everybody working together and I’m just really excited for all the people watching us even in practice. It’s really awesome.”
More than having fun in her Philippine return though, Nicolas is also out to compete with a mission of finishing in the podium of this national open against regional counterparts who are also training for SEAG.
“I’m just out here to really have fun. I definitely would want to place top three for sure. I’ve been training really hard so I’m really looking forward to my outcome for this meet,” added Nicolas who has a personal-best of 3.93 meters.
“I’m targeting 4.20m. That’s the qualifying mark. I would definitely want to clear that.”