MANILA, Philippines — Reigning gold medalist William Morrison thinks his compatriot Albert Mantua will be his toughest challenger in his shot put title-retention campaign in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi Vietnam.
Morrison was one of the stars for the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) in the 2019 SEA Games after tallying a new national record 18.38 meters for the gold medal in shot put and a silver medal finish from the discus throw.
Returning to international competition in this pandemic-era, Morrison was impressed with Mantua’s vast improvement after the latter qualified in the biennial meet with his personal and season-best 17.02 m in the MILO-PATAFA Performance Trials last February in Baguio.
“Probably my own teammate, Albert. We’ve been going pretty hard in practice and stuff. And I think it’s Malaysia again,” Morrison told Inquirer Sports.
Mantua’s previous fete was good for the bronze-medal standard of 16.40m for a spot in the SEAG-bound team and just one centimeter short of 2019 SEA Games runner-up Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli of Malaysia.
Morrison said he’s happy for his teammate, who missed the podium three years ago. It was a healthy competition for the two Filipino shot putters, pushing each other to their limits in their training camp in Baguio.
“He’s been doing really good. I really love having somebody who is improving everyday, getting better everyday with me. Definitely better than practicing by yourself,” he said.
The reigning record holder admitted he’s feeling the pressure defending his crown in just his second SEA Games appearance.
“It’s definitely a little bit of pressure. I haven’t competed at a meet this big in a couple of years. I’m just trying to get immensely prepared. Hopefully, everything will come together,” he said.
Thanks to his intense training in Baguio, Morrison is ready to defend his crown with his parents traveling to Hanoi to watch his quest.
“It’s been going pretty good since being in Baguio. We’ve been training pretty hard everyday. Finally seeing my technique coming back into good form. I’m excited to be able to try it and defend it again this year,” he shared. “My family’s gonna come and watch me again this year and then traveling around the world makes me wanna do well.”
Morrison hopes the top two shot putters in Hanoi would be Filipinos.
“Definitely, expecting a top two finish in both shot put and discus throw. Because it’s gonna be cool to see the Philippines go one and two in shot put. Expect some fireworks,” he said.
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