By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena and skateboarder Margielyn Didal – both veterans of the Tokyo Olympics – will serve as the country’s flag bearers in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China scheduled on Sept. 23.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino disclosed this on Monday, Sept. 18, during the send-off ceremony for athletes at the PICC in Pasay City.
Currently ranked No. 2 in the world, Obiena is the first Filipino to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. He is also a Southeast Asian Games and Asian champion, as well as a national and Asian record holder.
Just this Sunday, Sept. 17 (Monday in Manila), Obiena copped the silver medal in the prestigious Wanda Diamond League Final in Eugene, Oregon. His performance is expected to serve as a springboard to his gold-medal campaign in the Asian Games.
Obiena aims to surpass his previous Asian Games performance in 2018 in Indonesia, where he finished seventh with 5.30 meters.
This year alone, Obiena cleared the challenging 6.00m mark twice, including in the world championships in Budapest, Hungary last month where he captured the historic silver medal.
Didal, for her part, won one of the four gold medals the country won in the 2018 Asian Games.
A double gold medalist in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, she also competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where she finished seventh in the women’s street event.