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Obiena kicks off PH athletics’ Olympic campaign on Aug. 3

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MEDAL hopeful EJ Obiena will jumpstart Philippine athletics’ campaign in the coming Paris Olympics.

The world no. 2 pole vaulter will compete in the qualification on August 3 at the Stade de France at 10 a.m. local time (or around 4 p.m. in Manila) as he spearheads the bid of the three-man Filipino tracksters.

The pole vault finals is set on August 5.

Meanwhile, hurdlers Lauren Hoffman and John Cabang Tolentino see action in their respective heats on August 4 in the same national stadium.

The 23-year-old Hoffman, a Fil-American, is entered in the women’s 400-m hurdles, while Cabang Tolentino in the men’s 110-meter. Cabang Tolentino will run at 11:00 a.m. (5:00 p.m. Manila time), followed by Hoffman at 12:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. Manila time)

Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) secretary-general Jasper Tanhueco said in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Rizal Memorial Complex that all three athletes are now in the final stages of their training in Europe with about two weeks left before the world’s biggest sporting event finally goes full blast in the French capital.

Tanhueco, however, is not in the business of predicting on how the Filipino tracksters will do, especially the 28-year-old Obiena, who is considered one of the top medal bets of the compact Philippine delegation.

“We’re positive about our chances. I don’t want to put pressure on these guys. But we know they’ve been training hard for them to reach this stage,” said the Patafa official during the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, MILO, Smart/PLDT, and the country’s 24/7 sports app, ArenaPlus.

“We just need to believe in our athletes. We’re confident they will perform at the highest level. They’re not there to participate but hopefully win medals for our country.”

Cabang Tolentino, who is currently in Spain with his coach, and Hoffman are eyeing to join the rest of the Philippine contingent in its training camp in Metz, France either on July 23 or 24.

Obiena, on the other hand, is in a secluded training camp in Italy with his three-man team of coach Vitaly Petrov, Dr. Antonio Guglieta (osteopath) and Dr. Sheryl Casuga (sports psychologist).

Tanhueco said there’s no official word yet on when the Filipino delegation would be arriving in Paris as the Olympics gets underway on July 26.

“Were waiting for words from the POC. We’re in communication with them on final dates on when we can enter the (Athletes’) Village,” added the Patafa official.

Patafa president Terry Capistrano will be leaving for Paris on July 23 and is set to join Team Philippines during the opening ceremony parade along with Hoffman.

Miguel White was the last Filipino trackster to medal in the Olympics, bagging a bronze in the men’s 400 meter hurdles during the 1936 Berlin Games.


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