Gold in pole vault
SPORTS EYE - Raffy T. Uytiepo (The Freeman) - May 7, 2019 - 12:00am

SEA Games medalist Emerson Obiena once told me there’s little interest in pole vault. Tracksters would rather concentrate on the popular sprints like the 100m and 200m events.  True enough, the pole vault is being played on the sides of the track oval while the sprints are conducted simultaneously. 

Emerson also said one reason why the pole vault is not popular is because it’s a difficult sport.  But lately, the sport has been a source of the country’s gold medals and guess who is currently making waves in the event? Enter Ernest (EJ) Obiena. 

The young Obiena won the pole vault gold medal in the 23rd Asian Athletics Championship in Doha Qatar, besting a pair  of heavily-favored Chinese pole vaulters Zhang Wei and Huang Bokai. Obiena vaulted to 5.71m to erase his own national mark of 5.61m he set in Germany in 2017 and registered a new Asian Athletics Championship record.

Obiena therefore is a heavy favorite to win the gold medal in this year’s SEA Games which we are hosting in November. The current SEA Games record is 5.35m set in 2017 SEA Games by gold winner Porranot Purahong of Thailand. 

In the distaff side, Fil-Am Natalie Uy also set a new Philippine record by vaulting to 4:20m in the same championship. Although she only placed third in Doha, Uy, a former Eastern Michigan standout, eclipsed the previous National mark of 4.12m she herself set in the recent Ayala Phil Athletics Championship in Ilagan City. Expect these two pole vaulters to win the gold in the 2019 SEA Games in Tarlac City.

John Havlicek, RIP

I’ve been a Boston fan for quite some  time and I’ve watched the Celtics dominate the NBA starting with the arrival of the legendary Bill Russel.  John Havlicek continued the Celtics legacy when he joined the team, winning eight NBA titles from 16 seasons with Boston.

He was an NBA All-Star 13 straight times and still leads the franchise in games played, points and field goals made.  Havlicek nicknamed Hondo, was the Celtics sixth man since he was capable of playing guard or forward. 

He would average 20.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game over 20 NBA seasons and made the leagues All Defensive first or second team, eight times.  Havlicek was such a versatile and talented athlete that in 1962, he was drafted as a wide receiver by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns although he never played football in college.  Adios John Havlicek, Rest in Peace.

Did you know?

ENRICO SEVILLANO Then a 40- year international chess master (IM) won the 2008 US Open, the grand daddy of US chess, via tiebreakers.  Econg, who hails from Cebu, is nicknamed “The Tiebreak Kid” after winning the open on tiebreaks. 

He also topped the Southern California International Championship on tiebreaks. Econg was a member of many national chess teams including the one which competed in the World Chess Olympiad which the Philippines hosted in 1992. 

I was assigned by the PSC as the physical conditioning coach of the team and we trained in Baguio City for 10 months.  Econg graced the cover of the November 2008 issue of Chess Life, the world’s most widely read chess magazine.

FIDEL CASTRO, the Cuban president, played baseball for several minor league teams in the US and even tried out with the Washington Senators baseball team.  He didn’t got picked but went on to put his swimming prowess to good use in films with the aquatic Hollywood star, Ester Williams.

Note: A very Happy Birthday to Sheila Macalam of McDonald’s Mambaling. May you have more birthdays to come.

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