Ernest John Obiena is the first Filipino to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
But the pole vault superstar is sure he won’t be the last.
“I’m sure (other national athletes) will qualify, I’m sure. These guys are hungry and they want to be there (in Paris),” Obiena said.
Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo of weightlifting, two-time Olympic medalist Kayla Sanchez of swimming and former world champion gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo are just some of the Filipino athletes who are expected to book the trip to France and bring home medals as well.
Diaz’s gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics is actually the very reason why Obiena thinks the Filipino contingent in Paris will be big.
“After what happened in 2021, after (Diaz-Naranjo got) that gold medal, I’m pretty sure every one of us is pumped in Paris,” said Obiena, who cleared the pitch Olympic 5.82 meters last week at the Bauhaus. Galan Diamond League in Stockholm to secure a ticket to the French capital.
Other athletes expected to join Obiena are Olympic silver medalist boxers Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio and bronze medalist Eumir Marcial.
Even before booking his place in Paris, Obiena appeared to be heading for an easy Olympic qualification after a breakthrough at the Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway last month, where he cleared 6 meters to become the only Asian in the elite group of jumpers at the pole to have crossed this mark. .
Record winDiaz, who gave the nation its first-ever Olympic gold medal in 2021 in Tokyo by winning the women’s 55kg in record fashion, is this time entered in the women’s 59kg and has finished two of the five tournaments needed to clinch a ticket to France.
Yulo is preparing to qualify for Paris at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium from September 30 to October 8, where the 4ft 11in dynamo is expected to place in the top eight in the men’s all-around and at least a podium in each of the apparatus to do so.
Sanchez, a silver and bronze medalist with Canada’s women’s relay team at the Tokyo Summer Games, will be looking to earn the times needed for another Olympic stint in races sanctioned or hosted by World Aquatics.
The 22-year-old transferee of the Philippine swimming team clocked Olympic qualifying times in three women’s freestyle events: 50m (24.70 seconds), 100m (53.61) and 200m (1:57 ,26).
Sanchez holds a personal best of 53.12 seconds in the 100 freestyle, 1:52.72 in the 200 freestyle and 24.68 in the 50 freestyle.
Paalam, Petecio and Marcial are participating in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, which is a qualifying tournament for Paris. INQ
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