Obiena soars for lone gold | Inquirer Sports

Obiena soars for lone gold

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 02:17 AM March 29, 2017

Francis Obiena: Team PH savior

Francis Obiena: Team PH savior

Francis Obiena saved the Philippine campaign from completely falling apart in the 12th Southeast Asian Athletics Championships Tuesday at Ilagan Sports Complex in Isabela.

When everybody thought that the bid of Filipino tracksters would end up in tatters, the 17-year-old from a family of pole vaulters ruled his pet event for the host country’s lone gold at the close of the two-day meet.

Obiena, son of Edward Obiena who holds the NCAA pole vault record and was a bronze medalist in Southeast Asian Games decathlon, cleared 4.00 meters to beat Singaporean Saciin Esan Maran (3.80 meters) in the finals.

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Filipino John Emmanuel Reyes took the bronze (3.40) in the meet that served as tryouts for the national pool and presented by the City of Ilagan.

“This one is for the country,” said the 12th grader from Chiang Kai Sheik, whose uncle, Emerson, is a SEA Games silver medalist.

Obiena is also the cousin of Ernest John, the country’s brightest hope in the event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The tourney was sponsored by Ayala Corporation with Milo, Philippine Sports Commission and International Amateur Athletics Federation as supporters.

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“I was trying to size up my Singaporean opponent in the final attempt. But when he failed to clear the bar at four meters, I knew I could make it,” said Obiena.

“I just tried 4.35 meters in an attempt to overcome my personal best of 4.30 meters.”

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Counting Obiena’s heroics, the Philippines ended its campaign in sixth place among eight countries with 9 silver and 15 bronze medals while Vietnam topped the meet with 13 gold and eight silver medals.

Palarong Pambansa champion Jessel Lumapas and local bet John Carlo Yuzon also made it to the medal podium earlier.

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The 16-year-old Lumapas had a silver in the girls’ 400-meter run and a bronze medal in the 200m run, the same output of Yuzon in the boys’ 200m finale.

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