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PH trackster Obiena wins gold in Universiade

July 14, 2019

Filipino trackster Ernest John Obiena not only ruled the men’s pole vault competition in the 2019 Universiade in Napoli, Italy but also registered a new Philippine record on Saturday (Philippine time).

Obiena, 23, registered 5.76 meters to outclass German Torben Blech and Belgian Ben Broeders who bag the silver and bronze medals, respectively. Obiena’s latest feat shattered his previous national record of 5.71 meters that he set in the Asian Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar last April.

Blech also posted 5.76 meters on his third try but lost to Obiena via countback after failing in his first two attempts. The athlete from University of Santo Tomas only made two attempts.

Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association President Philip Ella Juico confirmed Obiena’s victory to The Manila Times. “Nobody in the Philippines has been jumping pole vault other than EJ (Obiena),” said Juico.

Obiena’s triumph is a big boost to the Philippine athletics team’s preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country will be hosting on November 30 to December 11.

“Of course, we are very happy and we’re on target for the SEA Games even for the World Championship, and eventually for the Olympics, everything is perfect. Yes, it is a new Philippine record, and he also established the old one (5.71),” said Juico.

The last time the Philippines won a gold in Universiade was in 2013 courtesy of chess player Wesley So.

Obiena is presently ranked No. 19 among 100 top pole vault athletes in the world according to the International Association of Athletics Federation. He is undergoing rigid training in Italy. Obiena is bound to return to the Philippines before the SEA Games.

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