ISABELA, Philippines – Filipino-American Elijah Cole debuted in the Philippines in style and bested home bet Hokett delos Santos for the pole vault gold in the Philippine Athletics Championships at the Ilagan Sports Complex on Sunday, March 26.
Cole cleared 5.05 meters as he powered through unpredictable weather conditions, with the strong winds adding a layer of difficulty.
“It did kind of ice me a little bit, if that makes sense,” Cole said, referring to how the wind affected him. “But luckily everything pieced together. I trusted it, enjoyed it. Everything was good. Yeah, it was scary.”
The 24-year-old Cole, a University of North Carolina alumnus, described his battle with Delos Santos as “unpredictable.”
“[Hokett] kept hitting the bars that I think he wouldn’t hit and then he would miss the bars that I thought he was going to hit. I don’t know. It was unpredictable,” said Cole.
“But ultimately I had a good time. I think he was smiling. I was smiling. We were just dealing with the worst conditions together. So it was a fun competition.”
Despite nursing a left hamstring strain, Delos Santos managed to clear 5 meters as he banked on the cheers of his fellow Ilagueños to shake off the pain and secure the silver.
“I thank the crowd because if they weren’t here, I don’t think I would’ve been able to perform well,” said Delos Santos, a Southeast Asian Games pole vault silver medalist, in Filipino.
Delos Santos’ coach, Emerson Obiena, said his ward will undergo rehabilitation before returning to action with hopes of representing the country in the SEA Games in Cambodia in May.
“We will look for tune-up competitions before the SEA Games,” said Obiena, the father of Asian record holder EJ Obiena. – Rappler.com
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