Freeman Cebu Sports

Peak to pick

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

Paris nears. Two months away from now. The world’s amateur athletes converge for the ultimate athletic showdown. They are the best. And the hungriest. Figuratively for them. They thirst for gold and glory no less. But literally for some Filipino athletes. Or both glory and money. Already, two of our brightest hopes for a medal are warning and warming up.

This month EJ Obiena pole vaulted to gold in the Track and Field Los Angeles Grand Prix. But the untouchable world record holder Mondo Duplantis was not around. Not a soft competition just the same. It included Olympic and world medalists.

Obiena cleared 5.80 meters, the qualifying height but may not be the medalling bar. EJ must reassert his membership in the 6-meter club to have a clearer chance for a podium finish. But it is a good sign. It means the 6’2” Filipino is right on track. He should peak at the right time when it matters most. The one they trained so hard for – the day of competition.

But with the Swedish Olympic and world champion Duplantis, EJ and company might be left battling for silver. Gold is a given to the pole vault god. Unless on a bad day, Duplantis cannot supplant his toughest rival – himself, who has been jumping over 6 meters several times over while perennial runners-up struggle to clear his routine height.

EJ flopped in Tokyo but recovered with a bronze and a silver in the worlds. If not for Duplantis, he could have brought us the historic gold in world athletics. But that was before and this is now. Or Paris will be later. Whatever. Only time can tell. And destiny maybe. Just like the presidency. Some of them never thought much less planned to be one. Or be one with the people. Like a widow before. And a mayor.

Also this month, Carlos Edriel Yulo pocketed no less than four golds in the Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Uzbekistan. Almost flawless in his favorite floor exercise. But it’s a continental competition. The rest of the world lurks, and watches his steps. Or missteps. The quality of his winning performance must have sternly warned the others.

It should worry Yulo more. There might be nothing left better in his tank that already has a void he could not avoid – the vacuum created by split from his management team, including his Japanese coach who mentored him to two world crowns and more in the World Cup Series, the regional games and the continental artistic gymnastics championships.

Earlier his performance dipped, but he just pipped and ripped. Despite the four golds, he must have held back something. Otherwise, he may have peaked too early. Speculative. Let’s leave it to sports science to set his body clock on time. Even if his countrymen can never be.

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