Obiena resets national mark with gold; Ando joins Team PH
Things continue to look up for the country’s bid in the Tokyo Olympics.
Peaking at the right time, EJ Obiena scaled new heights in pole vault while Elreen Ann Ando on Saturday became the latest addition to Team Philippines for the Summer Games.
Obiena readjusted the Philippine outdoor record—the previous mark was also his—en route to winning the gold medal in the Jump and Fly International Athletics in Mossingen, Germany.
In the homestretch of his Olympic preparations, the country’s top pole vaulter soared to 5.85 meters, erasing his own 5.81 mark he achieved in Italy in 2019. Obiena also owns the country’s indoor mark at 5.86m.
His recent string of performance have made Obiena a dark horse for a gold medal in a delegation that has been tagged as the country’s best hope for ending the quest for an Olympic title.
World champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, newly minted US Women’s Open champion golfer Yuka Saso and Rio de Janeiro Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting are among those looked upon to deliver gold for the country in Tokyo.
Diaz will be joined by fellow lifter Ando after the 22-year-old made the cutoff for the women’s 60-kilogram division.
Samahang Weightlifting sa Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella said Ando’s qualification showed that the association’s development efforts “are gaining fruits.”
“At 22, she’s making her first Olympics. Then with maturity, three years from now in Paris and in Los Angeles in 2028 she will be a force to reckon with,” said Puentevella.
Back to Italy
Ando, the Cebu lass who won bronze in the Rome World Championships, made the cut with 2,634 points, based on the list released by the International Weightlifting Federation.
In Germany, Obiena bested Germans Oleg Zernikel and Philip Kass who cleared 5.70m and 5.40m, respectively, for the gold medal.
A few days ago, the reigning Asian and Southeast Asian Games champion placed second in the FBK Games, behind pole vault king Mondo Duplantis of Sweden.
Duplantis, who owns the world record of 6.18m, ruled the meet with 6.10m. Obiena submitted a height of 5.80m which was better than that of reigning Olympic champ Thiago Braz of Brazil (5.62).
Obiena is returning to Formia, Italy, where he has been training for the past three years, to assess his performances under the watch of coach Vitaly Petrov. Then he will compete in three more outdoor tournaments before flying to Tokyo. INQ
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