Before coming over and competing in the recent Philippine Athletics Open, Filipina-American Natalie Uy vowed to make the most out of this opportunity against regional counterparts in a bid to start her build-up for the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) on a high note.
The 24-year-old Uy’s Philippine Open debut held last March in Ilagan, Isabela turned out to be a smashing one as she broke the 11-year-mark of 4.11 meters held by Deborah Samson.
Uy cleared 4.12m in the Ilagan meet, jumpstarting her quest to be part of the Philippine squad to the SEA Games which will be held this November in the Philippines.
“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,” said Uy.
Winning the gold in the SEA Games looks achievable for Natalie Uy following her record-setting vault in therecent Philippine Open.
The qualifier will run until September but with her latest feat, Uy is able to get a head start in terms of formally making it into the national team where she was supposed to be part of the suqad as early as last year’s Asian Games if not for some technicalities about her citizenship.
Uy boosted her SEA Games bid after taking the bronze medal in record-breaking fashion at the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships last April in Doha, Qatar.
In Doha, Uy posted 4.20 meters behind Olympian and Asian Games gold medal winner Ling Li and Xu Huiqin of China.
In just a month’s time, Uy shattered her own national mark.
“I think it’s incredible and I felt so honored to have the ability to compete for the Philippines. Like I said it’s been a journey now to reacquire my citizenship. It motivates me even more now that I know that I get to represent the country,” said Uy.
It was not that easy indeed for Uy to go through the process of establishing her citizenship but getting into pole vaulting had a smooth transition.
“It’s difficult at times but the goal, and knowing that I have a chance to represent the Philippines is what keeps me going.”
“Growing up I did multiple sports and when I entered middle school I started to do track and field. I was introduced to it when I was about 12 but I didn’t really started training for it until I was about 17,” disclosed Uy.
Uy said she did different track and field events like high jump, long jump and hurdles but it was the nature of pole vault that made Uy focus on the said event.
“It’s the most fun and its the most extreme of all the track and field events. You get to fling yourself through the air and run with a huge stick so I love the risk and the fear of all of it,” said Uy.
“The speed and how you have to work your entire body. so I think it’s just the most fun,” added Uy.
Born in Dayton, Ohio and traces her roots in Cebu, Uy is a communications major but is currently focused on winning a gold in the upcoming SEA Games and eventually qualify for the Olympics.
Winning the gold in the SEA Games looks achievable for Uy as her recent record set during the Philippine Open is better than the mark set by 2017 SEA Games gold winner Chayanesa Chomchuendee of Thailand who won the title with a mark of 4.10m.
“I got a lot of struggles. How to get my poles, places to train, training programs and everything so it’s been a lot of change, a lot of ups and downs. It’s difficult at times but the goal and knowing that I have a chance to represent the Philippines is what keeps me going,” said Uy.
“Now I have a clear path on where to go, especially coming over from the US to the Philippines when before, there was not a clear path,” added Uy.