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Conditioning is key, says EJ Obiena

Fresh from training stints in Italy, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and marathoner Mary Joy Tabal share the sentiment that winning their respective events in the 29th Southeast Asian Games that officially get off the wraps Saturday would depend largely on one thing.

“Conditioning on the day of the event,” said Obiena, 21, who is a cinch to take the pole vault gold in Kuala Lumpur.

While Obiena, a student of University of Santo Tomas, admits that he is the top favorite, there are other factors that can ruin his bid.

“The weather and some other things,” said Obiena. “You just can’t say that you’ll win it.”

If everything falls into place, the 6-2 Obiena is sure to stamp his class as he has a personal-best of 5.61 meters, third in Asia.

His biggest rival, according to Obiena, only boasts of 5.40 meters.

Tabal, 28, the controversial runner from Cebu City, echoes Obiena’s observations, stressing that how the day will play out will determine if she is returning home with the gold medal.

“The condition of your body during the day, that’s crucial.” Tabal said, revealing that moments after stepping out of the plane, she began feeling sick.

But the Rio Olympics veteran insists that her chances of topping her event “is 90 percent.”

Obiena and Tabal are part of the track and field team that gathered Tuesday during sendoff ceremonies at the Marriot Hotel with other standouts of the Malaysia-bound squad in attendance alongside key officials and major backers of the Patafa.

Patafa chief Philip Ella Juico, however, politely declines to issue a forecast, fearing that his athletes might get pressured.

Juico is taking a different approach, though.

“I don’t want to put pressure. Just enjoy the game to the point that you’d want to win,” he said.

PH raises flag
Meantime, the Philippines was officially recognized in the 28th Southeast Asian Games on Wednesday during simple flag-raising ceremonies held at the sprawling Kuala Lumpur Sports City here.

A total of 30 representatives from the national contingent consisting of medical, secretariat and athletes, led by PH squad administrator Rowena Eustuya who represented chef de mission Cynthia Carrion, and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) executive assistant Gina Calaguas, attended the occasion.

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