PH pole vaulter rules SG Open in record fashion, eyes Rio stint
Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena is making progress in his bid to secure a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Obiena ruled his event in the 78th Singapore Open Track and Field Championships during the weekend by erasing his own Philippine and Southeast Asian records.
The 6-foot-2 second-generation athlete cleared 5.55 meters, which was better than the 5.50 record-shattering mark he achieved early this month in the Philippine Open Invitationals.
Chia-Han Hsie of Chinese Taipei bagged the silver medal (5.10m) and Iskandar Alwi of Malaysia cleared the bar at five meters for the bronze in the meet held at the 55,000-seater Singapore National Stadium, the hub of last year’s SEA Games.
Obiena, son of former pole vault idol Emerson Obiena, has until the middle of next month to meet the Olympic qualifying standard of 5.70 with four more international tournaments that he’s bound to join prior to the deadline in June.
The Philippines collected a total of five gold medals in Singapore with Edgardo Alejan topping the men’s 400m, Christopher Ulboc in 3000m steeplechase, Rosie Villarito in women’s javelin and Mervin Guarte in the men’s 1500m.
Marestella Torres claimed the silver in women’s long jump and fellow long-jumper Julian Fuentes also placed second in the men’s event after leaping a personal best of 7.69 meters.
Obiena’s sister, Emily Jeane, ended up with the bronze medal in women’s pole vault (3.40m). Indonesia’s Nara Jelita won the gold (3.75) and Singapore’s Rachel Yang placed second (3.60).
Torres, the country’s former long-jump queen and one-time Asian champion, has been nominated by the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as its choice for a quota place to the Olympics.
Once the reigning SEA Games record-holder gets the nod of the IAAF, Torres will join Filipino-American hurdler Eric Cray in the Philippine delegation to Rio on Aug. 5-21.
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