October 6, 2023
MANILA – One gold medal, two new Philippine records and eight finals appearances for medal shots.
Taking 15 athletes to the 19th Asian Games (Asiad) here, PH athletics certainly did more than represent the country well, with EJ Obiena giving the Filipinos their first gold with a meet record-smashing performance in the pole vault.
And the overall record is giving the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association leadership a lot of hope that more bets will qualify for Paris next year, as the numbers at the conclusion of the athletics tournament here at the colossal 80,000-seat Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium suggest just that.
“Our batting average to get into the finals in [2018 in the] Jakarta [Asiad] was just 25 percent. Now, we made at least 50 percent with 15 athletes,” association president Terry Capistrano said. “This is the Asian Games, and it’s no joke to get into the finals. Our progression doubled and I think we’re slowly getting there.’’
With Obiena already sealing a Paris slot like three other Filipinos from two other sports, Capistrano will be dispatching his charges to qualifying tournaments as much as he can.
“There’s plenty of time to get into the Olympics. They have to get into tournaments to pile up points or qualify outright,” Capistrano said.
Hurdler John Tolentino almost claimed a medal after finishing fourth in the men’s 110-meter hurdle finals in 13.62 seconds, a shade off Kuwait’s Yaqoub Al-Youha’s gold medal (13.41) and within range of meeting the Olympic standard of 13.27.
Long jumper Janry Ubas chalked up 7.80 m and though ending up without a medal, his current Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold-medal record of 8.08 provides hope that the Olympic mark of 8.27 is doable.
Asian championships gold medalist Robyn Brown (women’s 400-m hurdles), former SEA Games sprint champion Kristina Knott (100 m and 200 m) and past Asian championship silver medalist and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympian Eric Cray (400-m hurdles) are also Paris prospects.
“We’re already done with the short-term goals this year, so we’re now on to our medium-term goal of making a great impression in the Olympics,’’ Capistrano said.
Rookies Lauren Hoffman and Angel Frank likewise showed great promise with the 24-year-old Hoffman landing fifth in the women’s 400-m hurdle finals on her first international race.
After Obiena erased the Asian Games record with a 5.90-m jump, the PH men’s 4x400m relay squad of Umajesty Williams, Frederick Ramirez, Joyme Sequita and Miguel Carlo del Prado erased the 38-year national mark twice, the second after finishing fifth in the final.
Their 3:04.89 clocking erased the 3:06.58 set in the 1985 SEA Games by Marlon Paglinawan, Romeo Gido and Honesto Larce and anchored by track-and-field luminary Isidro del Prado, Miguel Carlo’s father.