Reigning Southeast Asian Games sprint queen Kayla Richardson has opted not to run in the 100 meters when the athletics competition of the 29th SEA Games gets going on Tuesday at KL Sports City here.
Instead, the 17-year-old Richardson will focus on the 200-meter and the relay events, saying she is more comfortable in those competitions.
This, despite becoming the youngest century-dash champion in the history of the biennial meet when she won it in Singapore two years ago.
“I don't really want to say that I am giving it up,” Richardson said of the 100-m crown. “But this is not the event that I have been training for.”
“I will also be running in the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays,” added Richardson, now a freshman at University of Southern California.
For Richardson's father, Jeffrey, pulling Kayla out of the century dash makes sense.
“The only reason Kayla is skipping the 100 is that she hasn't run the race in over a year, and her coach at USC wants to focus on the 200-meter race,” Jeffrey explained. “She is very capable of winning the gold in the 200.”
As Kayla is skipping the 100, she won't see action until Wednesday, where she is expected to go up against defending champion Shanti Pereira of Singapore, who ruled the race in 2015 with a time of 23.6 seconds.
Kayla took the silver with a time of 23.71 seconds, though her father says that Kayla has done the 200 in 23.45, with the benefit of a slight tailwind.
“Her actual personal best in 23.65 seconds,” according to Jeffrey.
Kayla and her twin sibling, Kyla, will also be vying in the 4 x 100-meter women's relays on Friday, and the 4 x 400-meter relays on August 26.
Jeffrey revealed that the coaching staff has decided to “frontload” the team, with Kat Santos as the starting runner, followed by Kayla and Kyla, while either Eloisa Luzon or Fil-Am Zion Rose Nelson will run the anchor leg.
“Kat Santos ran a strong first leg in Singapore two years ago, while it will be Kayla, then Kyla. I am not sure about the anchor runner,” he said. “We want to give our team a strong head start.”
Kayla said she is confident about the 4 x 100-meter relay squad’s chances, adding that they had been practicing hand-offs of the baton for five straight days at the PhilSports oval in Pasig City before they got here.
“I am not so sure about our chances in the 4 x 400 relays, but we will give it our best shot,” she said.
News Source: ABS-CBN NEWS