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Obiena tops August, September PSA honor roll

Italy-based world No. 2 vault star EJ Obiena carried the cudgels in a “September to remember” for the Philippines’ sporting warriors.

Obiena lived up to his lofty billing and produced the country’s first gold medal in Hangzhou with an Asian Games record-breaking mark of 5.90 meters.

This feat sparked an early rush of one-gold, one-silver and six-bronze medals for Team Philippines in the initial skirmishes of the 19th Asiad and gave Obiena the Philippine Sportswriters Association’s nod as top achiever for the month.

Also shining bright was tennis sensation Alex Eala, who ended a 61-year medal drought for Pinay netters with her bronze in women’s singles, then teamed up with Francis Casey Alcantara for a podium finish in mixed doubles.

Silver-winning wushu fighter Arnel Andal (men’s 56-kilogram) and bronze medalists Patrick King Perez (taekwondo poomsae men’s individual), Clemente Tabugara J.r (wushu sanda men’s 65-kg), Gideon Padua (wushu sanda men’s 60-kg), and Jones Inso (wushu men’s taijijian) joined the march of achievers.

In faraway Genk, Belgium, Kevin Pascua led a 1-1-1
gold-silver-bronze harvest for the country in the OCR World Championship.

Pascua won the world title in the men’s OCR 110 meter, while Precious Cabuya and Kaizen dela Serna placed 2-3 in the distaff side.

The Jordan Clarkson-led Gilas Pilipinas wrapped up its stint in the Fiba World Cup with a 96-75 rout of China in the classification stage to finish 24th overall and clinch a spot to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

The country also celebrated the successful hosting of the World Cup highlighted by a new record crowd of 38,115 set on opening night during the Philippines-Dominican Republic duel at the Philippine Arena.

It was another triumphant month for Obiena, who in August sat side-by-side with the Little League Softball World
Series-conquering Bago City girls’ team in the PSA’s honor roll.

Obiena soared to the silver medal in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, validating his status among the best of the best in his event with a shining 6.0-meter vault.

Only Swedish megastar Armand Duplantis was better than the Pinoy pride, topping the field with 6.10m.

Obiena’s feat came a few weeks after the gritty teeners from Bago City bamboozled the opposition en route to the Junior League Softball World Series crown in Washington.

Powered by the 15 strikeouts of ace pitcher Erika Arnaiz, the Bago City belles completed a seven-game sweep of the premier competition for the
12-14 age bracket with a clinical 3-0 shutout of USA’s East Region.

The Bago City teens, who ended a 20-year drought for the country in the JLS WS and Obiena, who’s now the No. 2 pole vaulter in the global rankings, lead the PSA’s honor roll for August.

The month also witnessed brilliant performances from Eala, who won her fourth ITF pro title in Britain, and Olympian taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora, who anchored a gold rush in the Korea Open International Championships in Chuncheon.

Eala ruled the W25 Roehampton tournament in Britain, capping a series of upsets with a 6-2, 6-3 clincher over third-seeded Arina Rodionova in the finals.

Alora collared the gold in the women’s 73-kg class at the expense of Korean Jung Sugee, 2-0, spearheading a productive harvest for the Philippines where poomsae Ian Matthew Corton, the freestyle mixed team, and freestyle pair of Darius Venerable and Stella Nicole Yape were likewise triumphant.

Grappler Fierre Afan also carved his name in the list of achievers with his winning performance in the U-20 71-kg play of the United World Wrestling Grappling Championships in Warsaw.

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