Expect world-class pole vaulting action right here where Filipinos can witness as World No. 3 Ernest John “EJ” Obiena is set on bringing top-ranked athletes with reigning world champion and Olympic gold medalist Armand Duplantis for an invitational tournament in the Philippines.
Obiena is also eyeing inviting world-ranked No. 2 Chris Nilsen and Rio 2016 Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz, among several other rated pole vaulters in the world.
Obiena world bronze medalist
World Championship bronze medalist Obiena, who is currently vacationing in the country after his string of golden victories, told Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino in one of their conversations that the objective is to bring them to the Philippines after the 2023 outdoor season is over.
He came home with his girlfriend, German long jumper Caroline Joyeaux last week.
Tolentino, after agreeing with Obiena’s recommendation, said the Picnic Grove in Tagaytay City could be an ideal venue as it has become a favorite destination of local and foreign tourists. He is currently serving as the mayor of the city.
“With the Taal Volcano as a backdrop, what more could you ask for—a world-class pole vault action in one of the most picturesque tourist attractions in the country? Every jump will be postcard-perfect.”
Obiena said the setup will be similar to those in Europe with a street venue where the runway, the box, crossbars, and landing area are all portable or collapsible.
The European outdoor season ends in early September. And since the Asian Games in Huangzhou is slated for the same month next year, the potential date for the invitational could be late September or early or mid-October.
“The event will be a spectator-friendly event, and it’s planned that it be sanctioned (by the World Athletics),” Obiena said.
With such a prestigious sporting event, Tolentino sees a great opportunity to boost the tourism industry not just in the city but also in the entire country.
The POC chief 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.”
The Philippine Sports Commission, now chaired by Noli Eala, would play a crucial role in the event, according to Tolentino, who also agreed with Obiena to bring in some three-dozen world-class pole vaulters, both men and women.
“We are hoping to work with POC and PSC, it’s a mix collaboration,” said the 26-year-old Obiena, the 2019 and 2022 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist.
He added, “I also love to see Hackett de los Santos experience and compete with the best athletes.” Obiena was referring to the Vietnam SEA Games silver medalist.
Obiena said the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, under its new president Terry Capistrano, will also be playing a vital role.
“This is going to be historic that’s why I am pushing for it,” said Obiena, who hopes that the PSC, local government units, and big businesses to put up more pole vaulting facilities across the country.