World No. 3 pole vaulter EJ Obiena will likely miss the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships owing to the strong possibility of his poles getting damaged during transit.
According to Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association Secretary General Edward Kho, only small aircrafts are being allowed to fly into Astana airport and the poles could suffer serious damage during the trip given the limited dimensions of the planes.
“We advised him to reconsider proceeding there because it’s really stressful for pole vaulters due to the uncertainty of the poles being accepted, especially at the transit point, going into Astana. The airlines are using smaller aircrafts so it’s challenging,” Kho said.
“If your event is as technical and serious as pole vault, you wouldn’t risk it because it will ruin your composure.”
Should he continue to compete in Kazakhstan from 10 to 12 February, the 27-year-old World Athletics Championship bronze medalist will be coming off from two European competitions.
First off is the Mondo Classic in Uppsala, Sweden on 3 February before the ORLEN Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland, on 9 February.
Kho said while both Obiena and PATAFA agreed that the Italy-based athlete skip the Asian Indoors, they are not completely removing him from the list in case of any last-minute decisions.
“He agreed he won’t continue but he can come if for some reason an airline miraculously agrees to carry him and the poles, which we highly doubt because we analyzed them a month before,” Kho said.
“His main motivation was that it is the only Asian competition he has not participated in but we told him there will be other chances. He knows the other vaulters also pulled out because of their poles.”
The Philippines will also miss the services of Hokket de los Santos and Natalie Uy due to injuries as well as Filipino-American sprinter Kristina Knott in the tournament.
The past week Obiena has been on winning mode after taking the silver medal in his first competition in Germany and the gold in France.