Like floating in air, says EJ of Olympic-qualifying vault | Inquirer Sports

Like floating in air, says EJ of Olympic-qualifying vault

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 05:15 AM September 05, 2019

EJ Obiena, the country’s premier pole vaulter, felt a sudden rush of adrenalin when he went up and hurdled the bar for another record-breaking performance.

“I felt as if I were floating in the air as I let go of the pole and went over the bar, perhaps due to the adrenalin,” the 2019 Asian Athletics champion told track and field chief Philip Ella Juico in a telephone conversation on Wednesday.

Obiena’s superb effort of clearing 5.81 meters in a meet held in Chiara, Italy, late Tuesday night made him the first Filipino to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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Juico said Obiena’s attempt surpassed the Olympic qualifying standard of 5.80 meters.

The 6-foot-1 Obiena, who also reset his Philippine record, cleared the height on his third and last attempt, beating five other rivals for the gold medal.

The 23-year-old second-generation pole vaulter aimed to erase the current Asian record of 5.9 meters but came short on his last try.

Prior to his feat, Obiena vaulted to a height of 5.76 meters during the World University Games on July 12, just .04 meters short of an outright ticket to Tokyo.

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By securing his Olympic berth through the qualifying standard, Obiena avoided the perilous route of qualifying based on world ranking, which athletes have to jockey for a few months before the Olympics.

With hundreds of athletes competing for the limited spots in the Olympics, qualifying through world rankings, the system used in many sports without any qualifying standard, would mean a long wait almost up to the last minute to determine if a Olympic bid is successful or not.

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“It is Patafa’s (Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association) honor to have the first Tokyo Olympics qualifier come from its ranks. EJ’s feat comes at a time when the Philippines faces various daunting challenges in the international front, including the 30th Southeast Asian Games, and this should inspire other athletes,” Juico said.

“It took EJ five years of intense and dedicated training, countless international competitions, the most modern coaching techniques and support from the Philippine Sports Commission, Ayala Corp., private individuals and most recently, the Management Association of the Philippines, to help EJ get to where he is now and where he is headed,” Juico added.

Philippine Olympic Committee chairperson Steve Hontiveros and 2020 Tokyo Olympics chef de mission Mariano Araneta, also the president of the Philippine Football Federation, both confirmed that Obiena is the first Filipino athlete to qualify to the Tokyo global games.

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TAGS: 2020 Tokyo Olympics, EJ Obiena, pole vaulter

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