EJ Obiena says Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo's Olympic gold has national athletes ‘pumped’ for Paris | Inquirer Sports
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EJ Obiena says Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo’s Olympic gold has national athletes ‘pumped’ for Paris

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 04:30 AM July 11, 2023

Philippines' Hidilyn Diaz reacts while competing in the women's 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021.

Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz reacts while competing in the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

Ernest John Obiena is the first Filipino to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

But the pole vault superstar is sure he won’t be the last.

“I’m sure [other national athletes] will qualify, I have no doubt. These guys are hungry and they want to be there (in Paris),’’ said Obiena.

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Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo of weightlifting, two-time Olympic medalist Kayla Sanchez of swimming and former world champion gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo are just some of the Filipino athletes expected to book the French journey and bring home medals as well.

Diaz’s breakthrough gold in the Tokyo Olympics, in fact, is the very reason why Obiena feels the Philippine contingent to Paris will be a large one.

EJ Obiena pole vault

Southeast Asian Games – Athletics – Morodok Techo National Stadium, Phnom Penh, Cambodia – May 8, 2023 Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena reacts during the men’s pole vault REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

“After what happened in 2021, after [Diaz-Naranjo got] that gold, I’m pretty sure each and everyone of us is pumped going into Paris,’’ said Obiena, who cleared the Olympic height of 5.82 meters last week at Bauhaus Galan Diamond League in Stockholm to clinch a ticket to the French capital.

Other athletes expected to join Obiena are Olympic silver medal-winning boxers Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio and bronze medalist Eumir Marcial.

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Even before booking his Paris berth, Obiena seemed headed for an easy Olympic qualification following a breakthrough at the Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway last month, where he hurdled 6 meters to become the only Asian in the elite group of pole vaulters to have cleared that mark.

Record win

Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines reacts.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Weightlifting – Women’s 55kg – Medal Ceremony – Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines reacts. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Diaz, who gifted the nation its first-ever Olympic gold in 2021 Tokyo by winning the women’s 55 kilograms in record fashion, is entered in the women’s 59 kg this time and has completed two of the five tournaments needed to punch a ticket to France.

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Yulo is bracing for qualification to Paris at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, on Sept. 30 to Oct. 8, where the 4-foot-11 dynamo should place in the top eight of the men’s all-around and at least a podium finish in each of the apparatuses to make it.

Sanchez, a silver and bronze medalist with the women’s relay team of Canada during the Tokyo Summer Games, will be chasing the clockings necessary for another Olympic stint in races sanctioned or organized by World Aquatics.

The 22-year-old transferee to the Philippine swim team could breeze through the Olympic Qualifying Times in three women’s freestyle events—50 m (24.70 seconds), 100 m (53.61) and 200 m (1:57.26).

Sanchez owns a personal best of 53.12 seconds in the 100m free, 1:52.72 in the 200 m free and 24.68 in the 50 m free.

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Paalam, Petecio and Marcial are competing in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, which is a qualifying tournament for Paris.

TAGS: Hidilyn Diaz, Sports

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