Victoria Bossong of Cumberland, a junior at Harvard, celebrates after winning the Ivy League indoor 500-meter championship with a record-setting time in February. Courtesy Harvard Athletics

Saturday could be a momentous day for Victoria Bossong.

The 21-year-old Harvard University track star from Cumberland has applied for citizenship in the Philippines and hopes the process will be completed in time for her to qualify for the 2024 Olympics when she races Saturday in the women’s 800 meters at the Philippine Athletics Championships.

Bossong, a Filipino-American who graduated from Cheverus High, needs to obtain dual citizenship to represent the Philippines in Paris.

“I will hopefully have my citizenship in the next three days,” Bossong wrote in a text early Thursday morning from the Philippines.

Bossong’s mother, Portland area dentist Dr. Catalina Atienza, was born, raised and educated in the Philippines.

Whether or not she obtains citizenship before Saturday, she will compete in the Philippine Athletics Championships. Bossong is expected to win the women’s 800 at PhilSports Track Oval in Pasig and shatter the national record.

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“I will be competing. I do not need (citizenship) to compete,” she wrote. “There are a ton of other countries here competing.”

The Olympic entry standard in the women’s 800 is 1 minute, 59.3 seconds. Bossong will need to shave 1.6 seconds off her personal-best time to achieve that mark, though there’s also a path to get to the Olympics even if she doesn’t hit the Olympic standard. If she does reach the Olympic standard, Bossong is almost assured of competing in the Olympics as a member of the Philippine national team, providing she has dual citizenship.

Here in Maine, which is 12 hours behind the Philippines, Bossong’s two 800-meter races – a qualifier and then the final – will be spread over two days.

The qualifying heats will start at 6:40 a.m. Saturday in the Philippines, which is 6:40 p.m. Friday here. The final will be held at 5:40 p.m. there, or 5:40 a.m. Saturday here.

Bossong’s personal-best time of 2:00.92 is nearly six seconds faster than the Philippine national record of 2:06.75.

Victoria Bossong of Cheverus heads to the finish line in the 800 meters during the 2021 Class A track and field championships at Massabesic High in Waldoboro. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“My goal is to run as fast of a time as I can and become the Philippines national champion,” Bossong said in a text. “Doing so will boost my world ranking, which will help potentially get me qualified for the Olympics if I am not able to run the automatic qualifying time of 1:59.30.

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“However, ultimately, the goal is to run that time. If that does not happen this weekend, I aim to do so at NCAAs.”

Bossong’s personal-best time in the 800 came March 29 at the Florida Pepsi Relays. It’s the fourth-fastest time in NCAA Division I this season.

The NCAA championships are June 5-8 in Eugene, Oregon. Bossong will need a top-12 finish at a regional qualifier to compete in her first NCAA championship meet.

Bossong started thinking about competing for the Philippines while she was setting numerous state records at Cheverus. She owns Class A outdoor state meet records in the 100 (11.73 seconds), 400 (55.08), and 800 (2:10.66). She also set the Class A indoor record in the 400 (56.95).

She has received significant support and publicity in her bid for citizenship from FilAm Sports, a consulting group that provides support for Filipino-American athletes.

Several American athletes have recently obtained Philippine citizenship, including track standouts Lauren Hoffman and Angel Frank.

Hoffman, 24, grew up in Haymarket, Virginia, and was an All-American hurdler at Duke. Frank, 23, of Charleston, South Carolina, competed for the University of South Carolina in the 200 and 400. Both have set Philippine national records this spring.

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