Filipino Pole vaulter Obiena nears outright Olympic slot

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Pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena is right on track to become the very first Filipino national athlete to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games. He currently ranked 14th in the latest pole vault event world ranking.

Obiena is only .04 centimeters shy of the required 5.80 meters Olympic Qualifying Standard as he cleared 5.76 meters in the World Universiade competitions last July 12 in Napoli, Italy.  

Pole vaulters that can automatically be qualified to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games next year are those who cleared 5.80 meters in any International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) or IAAF-sanctioned tournament or those who are among the Top 32 pole vaulters in the world on or before the qualifying deadline set by the International Olympic Committee next year.

Obiena will try to clear the 5.80-meter pole vault Olympic Qualifying standards in the finals of the Diamond League on August 29 in Zurich, Switzerland or in the World Championships in Doha, Qatar next month.

Obiena can also pass the qualifying standard in the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country is hosting in New Clark City in December as athletics competition of the biennial games is also sanctioned by the IAAF.

According to PATAFA officials, Obiena has cleared the pole vault height of 5.80 meters several times in practice and has only to officially clear the qualifying standard during a competition sanctioned by the IAAF to make it official and make his entry outright into the quadrennial Olympics.

There are three ways Obiena can qualify in the Tokyo Olympics. One is by clearing the qualifying standard of 5.80 meters in an IAAF sanctioned completion and to land among the Top 32 pole vaulters in the world via ranking set by the IAAF before the Olympic qualifying deadline or by Universality Place or what was formerly known as wild card entry.

Athletics and swimming are two mandatory sports in the Olympics where countries can send a male or female athlete to compete in the Olympiad even without passing the Olympic qualifying standard in their respective event.

PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico is confident Obiena will meet the Pole Vault qualifying standard either in the Diamond League Finals next week or in the Doha, Qatar World Championships next month. (LO/iamigo)

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