KRISTINA Knott suffered a foot injury. — PHILIPPINE STAR FILE PHOTO

THE Philippine track and field team’s golden bid suffered a devastating blow after potential winners Kristina Knott and Guermali brothers Yacine and Said begged off from joining the Hanoi Southeast Asian (SEA) Games set on May 12 to 23 due to various reasons.

Ms. Knott, a Tokyo Olympian and 2019 SEA Games double-gold medalist, officially announced she has pulled out from the national team after suffering a foot injury recently.

Fellow Fil-Am Kyla Richardson will compete in Ms. Knott’s behalf in the 100 meters, 200m and the women’s 4x100m relay alongside twin sister Kayla, Robyn Brown and Eloisa Luzon.

Yacine, for his part, backed out due to conflict with his school schedules while Said withdrew due to injury.

Ms. Knott is easily a favorite to snare the sprint double mints while the Messrs. Guermalis are a cut above the rest in the 5000m, 1500m and 800m based on their personal best times.

But their absences may diminish the country’s golden chances in these events.

Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association President Philip Ella Juico remained confident the country can achieve their target of seizing eight to 11 gold medals.

Expected to deliver the mint for the Filipinos are pole-vaulter and Philippine flag-bearer Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, hurdler and sprinter Eric Cray, marathoner Christine Hallasgo, pole-vaulter Natalie Uy, hurdler Clinton Bautista, decathlete Aries Toledo, shot putter William Morrison III, thrower Melvin Calano and heptathlete Sarah Dequinan.

The country had 11 gold, eight silvers and the same number of bronze medals in the last edition of the biennial event three years ago at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. — Joey Villar