Ilagan, Isabela—Fil-American pole vaulter Elijah Cole won a battle of nerves with SEA Games silver medalist Hockett delos Santos, while middle-distance runner Alfrence Braza redeemed himself on the fifth and final day of the ICTSI Philippine Athletics Championships at the windswept Ilagan Sports Complex on Sunday evening.
The San Diego, California-based Cole, whose mom is from Nueva Ecija, battled strong winds and his unfamiliarity with a new pole to outperform an injured Delos Santos with a 5.05-meter leap right on his first attempt for the gold.
Cole’s jump eclipsed the five-meter, silver medal performance of De los Santos in the previous Southeast Asian Games, thereby earning him the right to be part of the national team in the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia.
“It was the first time I used a 4.90-meter pole. Before this, I jumped on a 4.75 pole. I was nervous because I never jumped on this pole,” said Cole, who got his Philippine passport last August.
De los Santos, who is from Isabela, was still recovering from a strained left calf when he settled for the silver medal at five meters during the competitions, slowed down by strong winds, which kept toppling the cross bars.
Long jumper Janry Ubas, who also saw action in the decathlon meet, netted the bronze in clearing 4.65 meters in the men’s pole vault.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Braza bounced back from disqualification in an earlier race after he claimed the men’s 1500-meters run gold medal
After getting bumped off because of cramps in the men’s 5000-meter run the other day, Braza vindicated himself with a better time of three minutes and 55.59 seconds.
Braza’s time surpassed the clocking he submitted (3:56.35) when he won the bronze medal in last year’s SEA Games (3:56.35).
“Confident po ako dahil na-hit ko ang personal best ko. Sana mai-lower ko pa ito sa SEA Games,” said the 5’7” Braza, a financial management student at the Western Institute of Technology.
Philippine Air Force bet Sonny Wagdos and Erwin Mancao took second and third, with times of 3:58.49 and 4:05.73.