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Seniors’ moment at Nat’l Open

ILAGAN, Isabela – The national track and field championships is looking more and more like a senior’s meet.

Hours after a 37-year-old runner won the women’s 10,000 meters, a 52-year-old won the men’s pole vault as the Ayala National Open Invitational Championships continued to rumble with hardly any electrifying feat after two days of competition.

Emerson Obiena, whose last moment of glory was 22 years ago when he captured the pole vault silver medal in the 1995 Southeast Asian Games, won the same event late Thursday after he cleared 3.90 meters. The SEAG record is 5.30 meters, held by a Thailander.

Earlier, Christabel Martes, 37, won the women’s 10,000 meters at the Ilagan Sports Complex.

Obiena, who took the spot reserved for his son, EJ, the country’s top pole vaulter who is in Europe training for the SEA Games in August, was a surprise winner.

With his age, he practically was almost like a father to all the other competitors in the event. But age gave him the edge and he credited his past experience to beat his rivals.

“Malakas kasi yung hangin, patagilid. Kailangang iasinta namin dun sa butas yung pole kasi kung hindi, mahihirapan kaming umangat. Dinaan ko na lang siguro sa veterans move kaya ako nanalo,” said Obiena, who works as track coach at the University of Santo Tomas high school.

He said he joined the event for the fun of it. “Kung mag-medal, bonus na yun,” said Obiena.

The National Open, bankrolled byAyala Corporation, is also a tryout for the national team for the SEA Games. Whether Obiena was able to qualify is not yet known.

Jose Jerry Belibestre of Bacolod shared the spotlight by breaking the Philippine record in the junior long jump event.

Belibestre, who won a bronze medal in the 2015 Asian Youth Athletics Championship in Doha, posted a leap of 7.43 meters, to capture the gold medal in the junior division.

“Habol ko po talaga yung record. Noong mga unang jump ko po, medyo kulang sa speed at vaulting, pero madali naman po akong nakapag-adjust,” said Belibestre.