MANILA, Philippines – EJ Obiena has made it a habit to set the bar higher each time.
The Rio Olympics aspirant ripped the national pole vault record for the third time in as many tournaments, posting a new high of 5.50 meters yesterday at the close of the Ayala Philippine National Open Invitational Athletics Championships at the Philsports Complex.
“I knew I could jump high everytime and I’m thankful that I set a new personal record, a new national record,” said the University of Santo Tomas stalwart, who previously rewrote the record books with clearances of 5.46 m in the UAAP and 5.47m in the Philippine National Games.
Far Eastern’s Janry Ubas (4.40m) and La Salle’s Adel Valdecanas (4.40) took the runner-up honors.
Obiena’s effort put him 20 centimeters shy of the Olympic-qualifying standard of 5.70m, which he hopes to reach in the next three months. He next competes in Singapore and Japan.
Obiena started the day with 4.40m then raised it to 5.20m, which he cleared on the second try. He gunned for the record 5.50m and cleanly made it, drawing cheers from appreciative crowd. He attempted to go 5.60m but fell short on three tries.
“5.50 was an easy clearance and I got excited to go for 5.60m. Maybe next time,” he said. “I wanted 5.60m really bad para 10 cms na lang (shy of the Olympic standard), now it’s 20 cms.”
UST bet Aira Teodosio shattered a national junior mark when she won the girls’ hammer throw. Teodosio hurled the hammer to 38.95m to obliterate the 38.90m record she herself set last month in the PNG.
Rio-bound Eric Cray saw action in the men’s 4x100m relay Friday night and led the Air Force team to the fastest time ever at 40.54 seconds.
But the clocking won’t likely make it to the books as technical officials learned that one member, Isidro del Prado Jr., skipped an earlier event, the men’s 200-meter run. According to Patafa sec-gen Nonoy Unso, under the “rule of succession” if a runner missed his scheduled event, he’d be “automatically disqualified” in the succeeding events.
“It was a record run. If only Isidro competed in the 200, we could have recognized the record,” explained Unso.
In other fronts, Mervin Guarte quickly redeemed himself from his letdown in Friday’s 800-m as he ruled the 1,500m yesterday. Guarte clocked 3:57.26 and got back at previous tormentor Elbren Neri of UST, who checked in at 3:58.80.