The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) conducted the first of the two phases of performance tryouts for the national team bound for the 2017 Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this August.
Hurdler Patrick Unso sizzled in the tryouts held at the Philsports track oval in Pasig City after topping the 110-meter hurdles with the time of 14.27 seconds and beating his teammates in the century dash with a 10.74 clocking.
The 24-year old Unso, a former member of the De La Salle University track team and son of former national coach and now Patafa secretary-general Nonoy Unso, eyes to surpass his bronze medal finish in the 110-m hurdles event in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.
The 30-strong national track and field team will undergo a seven-week intensive training at the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) next month.
A day before the June 4 departure of the delegation for HKSI, the national team will undergo its second and last performance trials that will serve as the final cut for the remaining events.
Patafa president Philip Ella Juico said that there are 17 athletes who have already achieved the SEA Games bronze medal standard.
Expected to vie for the SEA Games gold medals are EJ Obiena (pole vault), Eric Cray (400m hurdles), and Mark Harry Diones (triple jump).
“Essentially, most of our athletes who took part in the performance trials improved their personal bests. That’s a good enough indication that we are headed toward the right direction,” said Juico in an interview on Saturday.
“I credit this good showing by our athletes to our hardworking national coaches, together with our foreign full-time consultant coach Rohsaan Griffin of the US,” he added.
Besides the members of the national team, the Patafa also invited two young standouts in the performance trials. Veruel Verdadero, who won five gold medals in the recently concluded Palarong Pambansa in Antique, finished sixth out of seven contenders in the 100-m trials.
Another Palarong Pambansa standout Jessel Lumapas competed in 400-m run and posted a time record of 58.87 seconds.
Juico said Verdadero and Lumapas are being considered by the Patafa for recruitment for the national squad that will compete in the 2019 SEA Games that the Philippines will be hosting.