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Olympic-bound Obiena rises to sixth in world rankings

TOKYO Olympic-bound pole-vaulter EJ Obiena continues to pack momentum heading into the quadrennial sporting meet, now improving to sixth in the world rankings.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Mr. Obiena, 25, the first Filipino athlete to book a spot in the rescheduled Olympics this year, shared that he has climbed to sixth in the rankings from 10th place previously.

He padded his cause after doing well in European tournaments he recently joined in, which he used as part of his preparation for his Olympic campaign beginning later this month.

Among the tournaments he competed in was the 2021 Taby Stavhoppsgala Street Pole Vault in Stockholm, Sweden, where he won gold by clearing 5.8 meters.

In the latest rankings released by World Athletics, Mr. Obiena garnered a score of 1,343, bested only by Sweden’s Armand Duplantis (1,524), United States’ Sam Kendricks (1,469), Poland’s Piotr Lisek (1,443), France’s Renaud Lavillenie (1,379) and US’ Christopher Nilsen (1,360).

Mr. Obiena said the rise in rankings serves as further inspiration for him to do well in the Tokyo Olympics and bring pride and glory to the Philippines.

“Pursue your passion and prepare to work hard, real hard. Work continues, but this fills me with inspiration and gratitude,” Mr. Obiena wrote on Facebook.

“The Olympics is very near and no one can predict the results, but rest assured that the fighting spirit is very much alive. We will proudly not just represent the Philippines, but fight for its glory,” he added.

Mr. Obiena earned a spot in the Olympics in September 2019 in the Summer Universiade in Italy.

Since then, 18 other Filipino athletes booked spots for the Tokyo Games, namely, gymnast Caloy Yulo, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Irish Magno, Nethy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Erleen Ann Ando, rower Cris Nievarez, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, golfers Juvic Pagunsan, Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan, shooter Jayson Valdez, judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, trackster Kristina Knott and swimmers Luke Gebbie and Remedy Rule.

The Olympic Games happens from July 23 to Aug. 8. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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