It seemed like not so long ago when Philippine athletes made quite the showing in the premiere international multiple sporting event of the world, the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro back in 2016. True, again the country was thwarted in its quest to win a Gold Medal, but it was where weight-lifter Hidilyn Diaz added a new silver medal to the Philippines’ Olympic collection. Now that the Summer Olympics are approaching anew, to be held in Tokyo next year, the race is on to get as many Filipino athletes to compete by winning qualifying events. And a pole-vault competitor is the first one.
Inquirer.net has it that Ernest John Obiena is the first Filipino athlete to make qualification for joining the national delegation going to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. He was a competitive pole-vaulter, and at an Olympic qualifying tournament in Chiara, Italy he got his Olympic spot. The pole-vaulting competition was held Tuesday, September 3, where “EJ” vaulted to a height of 5.81 meters. Obiena is already the reigning Asian champion for pole-vaulting, with a regional record of 5.76 meters which he set earlier this year. With his achievement in Chiara, EJ not only beat his own record, but assured himself of a place in the Philippine delegation.
News of Obiena’s triumph in Italy was relayed by Philip Ella Juico, who is head of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA). The 5.81 meter mark in EJ’s pole-vault performance needs only to be confirmed by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF). This is deemed necessary as the period for automatic qualifications passed back in June 29. In previous Olympics the Philippines had to resort to “universality” places, where any country with a confirmed Olympic delegation, but no statistically-qualified athletes from competitions, can field one male and female participant each for an event.
It is hard to deny EJ Obiena’s caliber for the Olympics however. Even before his record-setting appearance in Chiara, and then his 5.76 record in the 2019 Summer Universiade (also in Italy) back in July, he has joined competitions in Berlin (5.50 meters vault) and Zurich (5.58 meters). The ever-increasing marks he set for his pole-vaults are also an indicator of his fast-improving abilities for this track and field event.
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games will run in Tokyo, Japan from July 24 to August 9 of the following year.
Image courtesy of Philippine Star