Philippine men’s pole vault national record holder Ernest John Obiena bagged a gold medal in the 2017 Baxter Abend Sportsfest held in Mossigen Germany.
Obiena, a bronze medalist in the Asian Championships recently held in India, posted 5.51 meters to beat German bets Gordon Porsch and Oleg Zernikel, who settled for silver and bronze respectively.
The University of Santo Tomas standout is coming off a fourth-place finish in the 8th Stabhochsprung Classics held in Leverkusen, Germany where he registered 5.61m to smash his own Philippine record of 5.55m established in the Singapore Open last year.
Obiena went through intensive training in Europe under Vitaliy Petrev and former pole vault great Sergei Bubka.
Obiena will be seeing action next in the prestigious IAAF World Athletics Championship to be held on August 5 to 13 at the Olympic Stadium in London, England with more than 2,000 athletes from 205 countries vying for medals.
The Filipino bet will be up against world-class pole vaulters including Potr Lisek of Poland and Sam Kendricks of the US – the top two athletes this season with both holding personal best of 6.00 meters.
The other topnotch participants are Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland (5.93m), Armand Duplantis of Sweden (5.90m), Renauld Lavillenie of France (5.87m), Thiago Braz Da Silva of Brazil (5.86m) Konstadinos Filippidis of Greece (5.85m) and Menno Vloon of the Netherlands (5.85m).
Joining Obiena in the world meet is Filipino-American Eric Shauwn Cray who will be competing in the men’s 400m hurdles.
Cray has a seed time of 49.57 seconds.
Kyron McMaster of British Virgin Islands is the top seed in the event with a 47.80-second seed time. The other notable athletes in the field are Karsten Warhol of Norway (48.25), Hann Mamadou Kasse of France (48.40), Jack Green of Great Britain (48.77) and Jamaica bets Ricardo Cunningham (48.52) and Kemar Mowatt (48.49).
After the World Championships, Obiena and Cray will fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to lead the national athletics team’s campaign in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games scheduled on August 19 to 30 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
EMIL C. NOGUERA