One month from now, EJ Obiena will zero in not on his attempt to improve on his personal best but on an automatic berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Obiena headlines the 23-athlete national delegation of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) to the Asian Athletics Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, on July 12 to 16, a period that opens the Olympic qualification season.
“Our track and field athletes will not only compete for medals in the tournament, it’s also an opportunity for them to qualify to the Olympics,’’ said Patafa president Terry Capistrano.
World Athletics has set specific clockings and measurements for athletes to gain access to next year’s Summer Games in the French capital and offered a wide array of tournaments across the globe to accommodate them.
The window for these Olympic hopefuls is to achieve the standard within a year, kicking off on July 1.
Joining Obiena in the continental championships are six-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 400-meter hurdles champion Eric Cray, SEA Games gold medalist Janry Ubas (long jump), throwers Willie Morrison (shot put) and Gennah Malapit (javelin) and triple jumper Ronne Malipay.
Sprinters Kristina Knott, Umajesty Williams and Frederick Ramirez, 110-m hurdlers Clinton Bautista, John Cabang Tolentino and Robin Brown, middle-distance runner Bernalyn Bejoy and Joida Gagnao and long-distance runners Sonny Wagdos and Arlan Arbois were included in the list.
Relay specialists Michael del Prado, Joyme Sequita, Maureen Schrijvers and Jessel Lumapas were likewise tapped as well as decathletes Aries Toledo and Johnmike Lera and heptathlete Sarah Dequinan.
Capistrano said the team is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee.
The 6-foot-3 Obiena, the Asian and national record-holder at six meters, should clear 5.82 meters to advance outright to the Olympics. INQ
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