EJ Obiena, POC chief plotting pole vault event featuring Duplantis, other top stars
After letting the world witness his exploits while bringing honor to the Philippines, Ernest John Obiena will take his act to local soil for his countrymen to see.
And he’s bringing his world-class friends along.
The third-ranked pole vaulter in the globe has entered into talks with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to stage an invitational outdoor competition late next year, with POC president Bambol Tolentino readily making Tagaytay City and its scenic backdrop available.
“The objective is to bring them here after the outdoor season’s over,” Obiena had told Tolentino, referring to world record holder Mondo Duplantis, world No. 2 Chris Nilsen and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics gold medal winner Thiago Braz, among others.
It will also allow fellow Filipino Hocket de los Santos, the silver medalist in the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games last May, to experience competition at the highest level.
“I also love to see De los Santos experience and compete with the best athletes,” added Obiena.
The setup, according to Obiena, will be similar to outdoor events in Europe, which use streets as runways with the box, crossbars and landing area all portable or collapsible.
Also the mayor of Tagaytay City, Tolentino already has the perfect spot in mind: “The Picnic Grove here could be an ideal venue.”
“With Taal Volcano as backdrop, what more could you ask for—world-class pole vault action in one of the most picturesque tourist attractions in the country,” Tolentino said. “Every jump will be postcard-perfect.”
The European outdoor season ends in early September, and with the Asian Games (Asiad) in Huangzhou, China, set on the same month next year, the event could even be the perfect warm-up for the China Asiad.
“The event will be a spectator-friendly event, and it’s planned that it [will] be sanctioned [by World Athletics],” Obiena, who is on a three-week vacation here, said.
“It’s great for tourism, and the Philippines will be in the international pole vaulting map,” Tolentino said. “It’s very doable despite next year’s busy schedule. It’s going to be a big event so we have to plan this carefully.”
“This is going to be historic, that’s why I am pushing for it,” said Obiena, who also intends to encourage the Philippine Sports Commission, local government units and big businesses to put up more pole vaulting venues around the country. “Pole vault is a standard competition so it’s doable.”