EJ leads Filipinos’ campaign in Asian championships


A 23-ATHLETE Team Philippines led by the continent’s best pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena are seeing action in the 24th Asian Athletics Championships that start Wednesday with sprinters Umajesty Williams and Frederick Ramirez kicking off the country’s medal at the Supachalasai National Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

Obiena will anchor the Philippine campaign in the competition that serves both a qualifier for the world championships in Budapest from August 19 to 27 and the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“Our athletes will not only compete for medals in Bangkok, but it’s also an opportunity for them to qualify for Paris and the world championships,” Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Terry Capistrano said on Tuesday.

Williams and Ramirez are members of the gold medal-winning 4×400 meters men’s relay team at the Cambodia 32nd Southeast Asian Games. They are competing in the 400 meters with SEA Games silver medalist Ronne Malipay vying in men’s triple jump also on Wednesday.

Also on the team supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee with CEL Logistics as sponsor are SEA Games 400 meters hurdles champion Eric Cray and long jump king Janry Ubas.

World No. 3 Obiena, the first Filipino athlete to qualify for Paris, will see action in the eliminations on Thursday and is expected to shoot for the gold medal in Sunday’s final.

Willie Morrison (shotput), Gennah Malapit (javelin), Kristina Knott (100), Clinton Bautista and John Cabang Tolentino (110m hurdles), Robin Brown and Bernalyn Bejoy (800), Joida Gagnao (3,000 steeplechase) and Sonny Wagdos and Arlan Arbois (10,000) are also on the team.

Joining them ares Michael Del Prado and Joyme Sequita who will join Williams and Ramirez in the men’s 4×400 relay. Also seeing action in the relays are Alhryan Labita, Cray, Maureen Schrijvers, Jessel Lumapas, Robyn Brown, Kyla Richardson, Bernalyn Bejoy and Jessel Lumapas.

Heptathlete Sarah Dequinan, Schrijvers and Lumapas are also entered in the women’s 400.

The team is coached by Jojo Posadas, Sean Guevara, Dario De Rosas, Danilo Fresnido, Eduardo Buenavista, Emerson Obiena, Isidro Del Prado, Martin Dela Fuente and Samantha Cray.

Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov, physiotherapist Francesco Viscusi and Osteopath Antonio Guglietta of Team EJ are also in Bangkok.

Also competing on Wedneasday are Schrijvers and Lumapas in the women’s 400 preliminaries, Wagdos and Arbois in the 10,000 and Malapit in women’s javelin.

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