EJ Obiena banners PH’s top achievers
The Manila Times
THE Philippines celebrated amazing achievements in various sporting fronts in the jolly month of July. Pole vault ace Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, the women’s football team Filipinas, karate stalwart Junna Tsukii, and new pro boxing champ Dave Apolinario took turns bringing honors to the country, earning the nod from the Philippine Sportswriters Association as the top performers in the glorious month. Obiena vaulted to a new Asianhigh mark of 5.94 meters, eclipsing his own 5.93m-standard, on his way to capturing a historic bronze medal in the World Athletics Championships in Oregon. The feat strengthened the 26-year-old’s standing among the elite and lifted him to No. 3 in the latest world rankings. Not long after clinching a qualifying ticket to the prestigious FIFA Women’s World Cup, the rampaging Filipinas carved their names into the record books by ruling the Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship. The Pinay booters, drawing added fire from a roaring home crowd at Rizal Memorial Stadium, brought down holder Vietnam in the semis, 4-0, then met their date with destiny with a 3-0 title clincher over fourtime champ Thailand. Tsukii continued “woman power” in her triumphant campaign in the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. The Fil-Japanese upstaged world No. 2 Yorgolis Salazar of Venezuela, 2-0, to cop the women’s -50kg gold medal for Team Philippines. Like a breath of fresh air, the undefeated Apolinario captured the IBO flyweight title with a cracking first-round knockout of home bet Gideon Buthelezi in East London, South Africa. Apolinario (17-0 with 12 KOs) filled the void after Mark Magsayo lost the Philippines’ remaining world title earlier in the month. Filipino youngsters also scored big in weightlifting and harvested 15 gold medals in the Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Bohol’s pride Vanessa Sarno, 17, swept the mints in the snatch (100kgs), clean and jerk (130 kgs) and total lift (230kgs) in the junior women’s 71kg category to lead the Philippine charge.