World championship bronze medalist and Asian record holder Ernest John Obiena won’t be around to see action in the six-day 2021 ICTSI-Philippine Athletics Championships, which begins on Wednesday at the Ilagan Sports Complex in Ilagan, Isabela.
The absence of the world no. 3 Obiena will have Filipino bet Hockett de los Santos going into a clash with Filipino-American aspirant Elijah Cole for a second slot in the men’s pole vault slot.
The winner between them will get a seat in the national squad being assembled for the coming Southeast Asian Games.
Obiena and De los Santos came up with a 1-2 finish in the Vietnam SEA Games.
Cole, a former University of North Carolina varsity mainstay, has a personal best of 5.41 meters going into this week’s trackfest.
“Magandang testing ito, considering na competitive ang mga locals natin ngayon,” said national head coach Jojo Posadas.
The 21-year-old Dde los Santos has managed to improve on his SEA Games’ silver-medal performance of five meters with a 5.1-meter jump in the PATAFA Weekly Relays last October.
The De los Santos-Cole showdown is expected to happen on the final day of the trackfest.
A total of 42 events will be played on Day 1, with 26 gold medals initially at stake in the men’s and women’s open, the boys’ and girls’ under-20 and the boys’ and girls’ under-18 categories.
Meanwhile, the 2023 NMSAAP Masters Athletics Meet in Isabela will serve as the pre-opening event Tuesday.
More than 100 athletes aged 30 years old and above have signed up to join in 24 age-group events.
Another athlete to watch out for is Christine Hallasgo, who will see action in the women’s 10,000-meter run. She is expected to slug it out with promising long distance bet Rizza Sorongon, a 19-year-old discovery from Sultan Kudarat.