sport

Richardson, a pinch hitter, has sprint queen potential


Kyla Richardson (right) will sub for injured teammate Kristina Knott (third from left) in the sprints. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Kyla Richardson (right) will sub for injured teammate Kristina Knott (third from left) in the sprints. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Called up to answer the starting gun in place of an injured star, sprinter Kyla Richardson feels the timing might just be perfect—so perfect that it could result in the Philippines’ first sprint double in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in nearly three decades.

With Kristina Knott deemed out of commission because of a leg injury, Team Philippines has called on Richardson to take her place, and the way the 24-year-old has been performing so far is giving the country high expectations heading into the Games that will open in a week.

“It’s definitely exciting and I’m happy with how I have been performing so far,” said Richardson in a virtual press conference hosted by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association for their SEAG-bound athletes on Wednesday. “I just want to stay focused and keep it going for the rest of the season.”

The charismatic Lydia “Diay” de Vega-Mercado holds the distinction of winning the last sprint double for the nation in the 1993 edition of the Games in Singapore.

Richardson recently clocked 11.31 seconds in the 100 meters and 23.12 in the 200m during the Pacific West Championship in San Diego last week, times that position her for a clear shot at topping both events in the coming races in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Vietnam’s Le Tu Chinh won the 100 gold in Manila in 2019, nipping Knott in 11.54 seconds. Knott exacted sweet revenge in the 200 in 23.01—the new meet record.

Chinh, though, won’t be in Hanoi also because of a leg injury, which could make Richardson the favorite come race day.

“I’m trying not to add too much pressure on me. I just do what I do,’’ said the 24-year-old Richardson, whose twin sister Kayla captured the women’s 100m gold in 2015 Singapore.

Both of them will leave to Vietnam from the United States on May 10 and join the 45-athlete Philippine track and field delegation in Hanoi prior to the opening ceremony two days later.

The twins will also banner the women’s 4X100 relay team.

“We’re both excited to go and do some good things out there,’’ said Kyla of her twin sister.

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