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COVID-19 Didn’t Stop Sprinter Kristina Knott From Joining The Tokyo Olympics

COVID-19 Didn’t Stop Sprinter Kristina Knott From Joining The Tokyo Olympics
Image by multisportph / Instagram

The Philippines won its first Gold medal in the Olympics yesterday with weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s historic win in Tokyo. Get to know another woman athlete who is looking to bag an Olympic medal for the country.

Kristina Marie Knott, “KK,” is the Philippines’ bet for the Athletics (Track & Field) event. She currently holds a national record of 23.01 seconds and is one of our country’s hopes for another gold medal.

Kristina started running track at 12 years old. “I initially started to stay in shape for basketball,” the Filipino-American shares. She was born in Orlando, Florida to Harold Knott and Rizalina Lamb, a Filipina from Imus, Cavite.

Twenty-five-year-old Kristina herself volunteered to represent the Philippines. She personally contacted the officials of the Athletics Association to sign up for the team. “It was an opportunity for me to learn my Filipino side because I grew up in America. So, what better way for me to learn my culture by representing the country,” she says.

Kristina’s international debut was at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, where she finished sixth with a time of 23.51 seconds. At the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, she set a new national record of 23.07, which also broke the SEA Games record of 23.30 seconds. Shortly after, she surpassed her own record by finishing 23.01 seconds in the finals.

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Kristina mentioned in an interview how she has always been in the shadow of renowned Filipino track and field athlete Lydia De Vega, who held the national record for three decades. She, however, surpassed Lydia’s record of 11.28 seconds by clocking in 11.27 seconds in the women’s 100-meter dash in 2020. Before qualifying for the Olympics, her goal was to keep competing so she can set a new record to meet the time.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) says, “The Miami based Knott joined the Philippine national team for athletics fairly recently as a way to connect more to her Filipino roots. Fast forward a couple of years and the Filipino-American sprinter is as good a bet as any to get that elusive gold for the Philippines.”

“Knott is the national record holder for both the 100-meter and 200-meter events and after securing four medals in the 2019 SEA Games she looks to add to her medal collection in Tokyo.”

Her COVID-19 journey

In June, despite being fully vaccinated, Kristina tested positive for COVID-19. Despite catching the virus, however, she felt healthy the whole time. She says the only challenging part was being locked up in a room for five days, but she made sure to make up for it after her quarantine by enjoying the outdoors as much as she could.

She remembers the strict health protocols during her recovery period, but she was very grateful to have her coach and teammates bring her food and other necessities. During her five-day quarantine, she still made sure to incorporate working out into her daily routine.

KK actually found out that she qualified for the Olympics the day after she tested positive for COVID-19. “I was mixed with a lot of different feelings since the day prior to knowing I tested positive for COVID, but excitement was definitely one of those feelings. The journey was challenging from trying to manage minor injuries all through my season, and of course trying to navigate through this COVID time,” she narrates.

Kristina’s preparation for the Olympics

KK was never satisfied with her victories until she qualified for the Olympics, but she was always confident that she would make it. “It was a dream come true. I feel like it’s any Track and Field athlete’s dream to be an Olympian. To represent the Philippines is an honor to wear that flag to Tokyo,” she says.

Kristina was based in Pasig, Metro Manila from 2018 to 2019. For this season, she trained a little in Italy and Sweden.

“I normally train 5 days out the week. My sessions last two to four hours, depending on the day. Three times out the week I’m lifting weights, which makes the session last 4 hours,” she says.

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She is thankful to the different sports organizations and sponsors who grant financial support for the competition. “I get help from the PSC [Philippine Sports Commission], POC [Philippine Olympic Committee], and PATAFA [Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association]. I’m grateful for Lucy Artiaga and Maricor Pacheco for always making sure my trips had the accommodations needed in order for me to train or compete,” she shares.

Knott’s biggest sacrifice in this entire journey is not being able to see her family as much as she wants to. Despite this, being able to explore has been her biggest motivation. “Traveling and seeing the world inspires me to keep running,” she shares. 

Kristina tells that her main goal this season is to be in the mix with the best athletes. She also wants to reach her full potential as an athlete. 

KK is positive that she can break her own record and win the elusive gold medal in Tokyo. Her goal is to make it through each round. As of this writing, she is at a training camp in Nagasaki, and will only stay in the Olympic Village 5 days before her competition due to social distancing. 

In a Facebook live video, PATAFA marketing and communications chief Edward Kho mentioned how he admired KK’s state of mind going into the competition. He described Kristina as someone who is relaxed but focused.

To those aiming to compete in the Olympics, Kristina has this to say: “My message to aspiring Olympians is to always find the balance of the grind and smelling the roses.”

Kristina Knott is set to represent the Philippines on Monday, August 2 at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium. You can check the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association’s Facebook page for updates about her journey.

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Watch the 2020 Tokyo Olympics live on free TV via TV5 and One Sports from July 23 to August 8, 2021. You can also watch the Olympic events through Cignal Play’s website and app.

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