By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

WHILE the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has made it challenging for athletes to squeeze in their usual training regimen, Filipino-American pole vaulter Natalie Uy has managed to stay the course, making most of her time honing her game during the lockdown.

Currently in the United States, Ms. Uy, 25, a gold medal winner in last year’s Southeast Asian Games, shared that she has been able to sustain training but admitted she misses competing regularly in various meets.

“Luckily I was in a situation where I was quarantined actually at a gym. My home was attached to a gym so I was able to work out but obviously I was not able to see anyone. I was not able to work with my coach so I just did all the workouts that I could by myself,” said Ms. Uy in a recent episode of Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ So She Did! podcast.

“But it definitely took a toll on me. You know when you’re used to competing, there’s an element of competition that you don’t get obviously when you’re alone and you’re not seeing other people. And obviously with everything being cancelled, you don’t really know when your next competition is and yeah, it was tough, it was tough,” she added.

Recently though, Ms. Uy did get to compete at the Acadia Invitational in Greenville, North Carolina, hosted by American vaulter and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris held at the latter’s own backyard where the Fil-Am athlete did well, breaking the Philippine record.

Ms. Uy cleared 4.30 meters in the meet, quashing the previous record of 4.25 meters which she herself set in the 2019 SEA Games. She finished sixth overall in the North Carolina competition.

“Yeah it was incredible. They wanted to hold a meet and so they invited most of the top vaulters in the US. I was invited and got to represent the Philippines. We’ve all just been trying to shake off the rust and get into competition mode so yeah,” said Ms. Uy of the Invitational.

Turning attention to her experience in the SEA Games held here in the country, Ms. Uy said it was a nerve-wracking stint but something she had fun with. “It was a little bit nerve-wracking because it’s my first Southeast Asian Games and, of course, it’s in the Philippines so I felt like there were lots of expectations. It was like a perfect mix of stress and awesomeness,” she said.

Moving forward, Ms. Uy said a goal for her is making it to the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 as part of the Philippine team, which includes already-qualified EJ Obiena.

She acknowledged that with COVID-19 still a concern everything is still up in the air but she is determined to stay focused and keep going.

“I’ve set my goal. If I don’t give my all, I’d be so angry with myself for like kind of giving up. All the challenges are just another kind of bump in the road. You just have to keep going.”