Kristina Marie Knott ran against two superstars, broke the Philippine national record and earned the silver medal in the women’s 100-meter run during the celebrity-laced Drake Blue Oval Showcase Presented by Mediacom at Drake Stadium in de Moines, Iowa last Sunday, Philippine time.
Knott ran in a tough field which included 2016 Olympic gold medalist Tianna Bartoletta and world no. 7 ranked and United States indoor champion Kayla White.
But, this brought the best out of the 24-year-old Knott, who took the lead early before White bolted forward from Bartoletta’s right at the 30-meter mark to win the gold medal.
White came close to the Olympic qualifying time with her 11.18 second clocking. The 5’6” Knott cruised to second place at a national record-smashing 11.27 seconds set with a tailwind of 1.5 meters per second blowing in her favor.
The Olympic qualifying time in the women’s 100 is set at 11.15 seconds.
Bartoletta, who is the reigning Olympic long jump champion and shares credit for the US gold medal win in the 4×100 meter relays, settled for third with a season’s best time of 11.44 seconds.
The Florida-based Knott shattered Philippine track legend Lydia de Vega-Mercado’s one of her two remaining national records.
The national mark of 11.28 seconds stood for 33 years set when de Vega-Mercado claimed the gold in the 1987 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta.
The last time Knott set a national record was during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games when she reset Zion Corrales-Nelson’s time of 23.18 seconds with her 23.01 second feat in the women’s 200-meters.
So far, de Vega-Mercado still has one record left standing and that’s in the 4×400-meter relays of 3:40.9 set back in 1993.
Knott’s coach Rohsaan Griffin said White and Bartoletta provided huge challenges for her ward.
“The wind was 1.5 so basically perfect condition. The other athletes gave a strong challenge in the beginning although Kristina had a good start and decent 30-40 meters. Both Tianna and Kayla are sub 11 runners with Kayla running 11.19 today,” said Griffin in an interview with the Manila Standard.
Griffin said she felt Knott would be at her best right before the race.
“I knew she was prepared to run fast since Saturday of last week. She ran very fast in a practice session, one of them being a practice personal best. So I immediately backed off of her training load. She trained on Monday only doing drills then rested Tuesday. Wednesday we only did 1x flying 30 meters and a modified weights session. Thursday was off. She traveled Friday and did a warm up and stretch upon arrival and rested until race day and the rest is history,” said Griffin.
She was supposed to join the women’s 200-meter and seek qualification for the Olympics.
But, the event, which was won by Lyn Irby, was filled up and had the world’s best runners in the mix including Rio Olympics 400-meter gold medalist Shaunae Miller-Uibo, along with Doha 200-meter silver medalist Brittany Brown and Tynia Gaither, who was a finalist in the last two World Championships.
“Our early expectations were to get a 200-meter race today but the preliminary entry list was stacked with sub 23.00 runners, something we aspire to be,” added Griffin.
Despite her inability to join the 200-meter event, Knott, is still on track for her Olympic qualifying goals.
“Comparatively, 11.27 definitely puts her on track to go below the 22.80 Olympic Qualifying mark for 200 meters as well as in reach of the 11.15 mark for 100 meters as well. So very promising performances given the current situational crisis the world is dealing with,” said Griffin.
And Knott could do even better in her next races.
“She hasn’t raced enough. Actually she’s only raced twice which means she can improve on her time if she has more races ahead,” said Griffin, who explained that she did not join a lot of races early this because of the lockdowns imposed through the US to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
There were six 2016 Olympians who showed up to compete, including gold medalists, Bartoletta and Ryan Crouser, the reigning men’s shot put titlist.
Philippine Athletic Track and Field chief Philip Ella Juico commended Knott on her performance following talks with her and Griffin.
“The latest time of Kristina Knott in the 100 meters of 11.27, is a new Philippine record, the best time in Southeast Asia and number 1 in Asia for 2020. These achievements, done during the Drake Blue Oval Showcase in Des Moines, Iowa, with a legal wind assistance factor of 1.5 meters per second, is even more noteworthy given the very complex pandemic situation,” said Juico.