By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Pole vault star EJ Obiena is now the last man standing for the three-man Philippine team after Fil-American hurdler Robyn Brown was overpowered by rivals in the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Monday, Aug. 21.
The reigning Asian champion gave everything she had but was a sorry sight at the end of the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the National Athletics Centre after finishing 7th in a field of 8 in their heat.
Her time of 56.83 seconds was even way off her PH record of 56.44.
Brown’s exit came a day after Eric Cray was eliminated in the men’s 400m hurdles.
Cray also wound up seventh in his heat and 34th overall.
That leaves Obiena as the country’s last hope for a podium finish, a mission that seems doable given his impressive and consistent showing in the past months.
Jamaican Janieve Russell topped the group with 54.53sec to earn a spot into the next round, along with American Anna Cockrell (54.68sec), Panama’s Gianna Woodruff (56.31sec) and Canada’s Savannah Sutherland (55.85sec).
Overall, Brown placed 35th among 41 runners with Femke Bol of the Netherlands topping the preliminaries with 53.39sec.
A total of 35 pole vaulters are competing in the qualifications with Obiena seeking to make it to the finals slated Aug. 26 with hopes of improving his historic bronze-medal finish in Eugene, Oregon last year.
Standing in Obiena’s way is r eigning world champion and world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden.
Other fancied bets are last year’s silver medalist Chris Nilsen of the United States, Sam Kendricks, Kurtis Marschall, Sondre Guttormsen, Piotr Lisek and Meno Vloon.