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Category Archives: Pole Vault
October 20, 2019Posted by on
As a Filipino sports fan almost inured to sporting heartbreak, I’m still at a high from last weekend’s world titles from gymnast Carlos Yulo and amateur boxer Nesthy Petecio (special mention goes to out to Azkals for drawing against China at the recent FIFA World Cup qualifiers). Yulo and Petecio, by virtue of their respective titles, join pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena as the Philippines’ first qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Although I’m ecstatic at our country’s gymnastics and amateur boxing milestones, EJ’s achievement is a lot closer to this ex-sprint hurdlers’ once-athletics crazy heart.
The Obienas have long since been a fixture in the tight-knit local athletics community. EJ’s mother, Jeanette is a former sprinter and hurdler, and is currently involved in track & field officiating and organization. Coach Emerson, himself a former pole vault athlete and a multiple SEA Games medallist, still competes in masters-level athletics events. In the years that I’ve spent as a track athlete (and the two years or so attempting an ill-fated comeback) throughout the Oughts, I’ve often admired this track & field family for their collective love and determination for the sport.
Looking back at my own humble track career, I point to that particularly humid evening in Rizal Memorial back in 2004 as the pivotal moment when I realized how much I loved athletics. That year’s edition of the old Track & Field National Open (they call it by a different name now, I think) was at its latter legs. The Men’s Pole Vault was being bitterly contested by two Thais and the lone Filipino standing, Coach Emer. The two Thais had personal bests of around 4.70 – 4.80m and were ranked at the top of the event back then (track geeks, correct me if I’m wrong!). In the dimly-lit environs of Rizal, watching Coach Emer (then almost in his forties, I think) valiantly compete against the best of the region solidified my commitment to be the best sprint hurdler I can possible be – to be as good as Coach Emer in the pole vault and earn the right to compete with our country’s name proudly emblazoned across my running vest.
Fast forward seven years later to the 2011 edition of the National Games. I was struggling to balance the demands of a full-time job with an athletics comeback. For months in the lead-up to what turned out was my sputtering swan song of a race, the Obienas, the rest of the Philippine Pole Vault Club, and Mr. Hwa Liong took me in as one of their own. Throughout those four days in Bacolod, I saw first-hand how much the sport is ingrained in the identity of the Obienas. As a student of athletics, I relished the constant conversation about track & field. It was eat, sleep, breathe athletics – in a nurturing family setting at that.
But I retired from the sport soon after, disillusioned at the lack of facilities and the worsening Manila traffic. The Obienas, EJ in particular, soldiered on. Even if I’ve long since hung up my spikes, I kept tabs on the local track scene’s developments thanks to social media. From the first time EJ broke Ed Lasquete’s former national record of 5.00m, his first Asian title, his breakthrough Diamond League appearance, and his qualification to the Tokyo Olympics I’ve cheered EJ from afar and drew in inspiration from his many struggles and his well-deserved success.
EJ’s sporting feats are indeed awe-inspiring but not surprising considering the athletics-centered and nurturing familial atmosphere that he grew up in.
Ranked 10th in the world, EJ has a legitimate shot at the Olympic podium. He lives and trains with the best and knows his major competitors from the inside out. The pole vault is perhaps the most technical of all athletics events. Here lies its unpredictability (think Rens Blom at the rainy 2005 Helsinki Olympics).
The last Filipinos to win Olympic medals in athletics were the great Simeon Toribio (1932 Los Angeles, Bronze, High Jump) and Miguel White (1936 Berlin, Bronze, 400m hurdles). The younger Obiena is perhaps our best hope for Olympic track & field glory since Marestella Torres and Elma Muros-Posadas.
Godspeed, EJ! And Fly High!
Follow EJ on social media: @soon_ej
February 2, 2013Posted by on
Denise Groot is this week’s Track Beauty!
Groot is a pole vaulter from the Netherlands. Coached by George Friant and 2005 World Champion Rens Blom, Denise has been a consistent 4.00m vaulter since 2007. Groot had a sterling career in age-group competition. While still only a youth athlete, Denise won a silver medal in the Dutch National Championships in 2007, clearing a height of 3.61m. She followed this up with another silver medal, soaring over 3.90m in the European Youth Olympic Festival the same year.
Article by Joboy Quintos
October 3, 2012Posted by on
Tatiana Grigorieva Татьяна Григорьев is this week’s Track Beauty!
As a 15-year old kid back in 2000, one of the very first athletics articles I’ve read was about the glamor couple of Grigorieva and Viktor Chistiakov Виктор Чистяков. Grigorieva was one of the most stunning female athletes ever to grace the sport. Hence, it is about time that she gets some air time in Track Beauty of the Week. More importantly, the Russian-born Australian was an early pole vault pioneer.
July 28, 2012Posted by on
Pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva (Елена Исинбаева) always makes her first jump when everyone else had made theirs. The Russian usually isolates herself from the other competitors, opting to cover her face with a towel and nap. British Olympic hopeful Holly Bleasdale was not amused. She called Isinbayeva “disrespectful” and likened her to a “tramp.”
July 28, 2012Posted by on
Check out this documentary on German Olympic hopeful Silke Spiegelburg.
Silke has a personal best 4.82m, set in Monaco this year. She has won two European Indoor silver medals the past few years. Spiegelburg finished second at the Barcelona European Championships two years ago. Spiegelburg has been a finalist in two World Championships, this year’s World Indoors and the Beijing Olympics.
Go Silke! You deserve a medal!
Silke’s IAAF profile
July 7, 2012Posted by on
It’s always great to see featured Track Beauty athletes do well in international competition.
The European Championships have seen the rise of Moa Hjelmer, Jiřina Ptácniková, Alina Talai (Alina Talay Аліна Талай), Laura Ikauniece, and Nikolia Kyriakopoulou (Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou Νικολέτα Κυριακοπούλου). Dafne Schippers and Gesa Felicitas Krause have also done well in Helsinki, as middle distance runner Katya Kostetskaya (Ekaterina Kostetskaya Екатерина Костецкая) made waves at the Russian Championships.
This confirms the fact that Track Beauty of the Week does not just feature mere eye candies, but women gifted with athletic excellence!
June 25, 2012Posted by on
I was supposed to write about the dead heat between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, but something much more interesting caught my attention.
As I was scouring Google for more articles on the 60m Hurdles at the 2011 Russian Indoor Championships, where Yevgeniy Borisov Евгений Борисов and Konstantin Shabanov Константин Шабанов shared the national title, it turns out that the Russian hurdlers ran a dead heat again – at the very same competition!
In 2011, the Russian duo both clocked 7.63s. Even if the judges went to the photo-finish tapes, the race was too close to call; hence, they shared the gold. This time around, both Borisov and Shabanov were one-hundredths of a second slower. And still inseparable. For the second time in two years, the two hurdlers again shared the top spot on the podium.
A dead heat, especially in the running events, is a rare occurrence in itself. But to do it twice? Now, that’s uncanny!
Interestingly, the 2012 edition of the Russian Indoor Championships featured closely-fought contests:
- Women’s Pole Vault (2012): Ludmila Yeruemina and Angela Sidorova both cleared 4.32m. Two bronze medals were awarded.
- Men’s 60m Dash (2012): Yevgeniy Ustavshchikov and Mikhail Yegorov both ran 6.74s. Again, two bronze medals were given! The battle for first place was also close, but the photo-finish cameras were conclusive. Aleksandr Brednev and Mikhail Idrisov were both credited with 6.72s, but the former took the gold medal.
June 9, 2012Posted by on
Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou Νικολέτα Κυριακοπούλου is this week’s track beauty!
Kyriakopoulou is the Greek pole vault record holder at 4.71m. She set her national mark at the London Grand Prix last year. Prior to her breakout 2011 season, the pole vaulter only had a personal best of 4.55m. In 2011, she qualified for the finals of the European Indoor Championships and the World Championships.
June 9, 2012Posted by on
I love watching the pole vault. It is the most technically demanding athletics event – and one of the most engaging and exciting. I won’t pretend to be a pole vaulting expert. I am not. My knowledge of its technical intricacies are practically nil, so I’ll be basing my predictions on gut feel and statistics.
Women’s Pole Vault
Yelena Isinbayeva (Елена Исинбаева) is to women’s pole vault as Sergei Bubka (Сергі́й Бу́бка Серге́й Бу́бка) is to the men’s event. Isinbayeva is undoubtedly, the greatest female vaulter of all-time, the only one to clear above five meters in the relatively young discipline. But the stresses of being on top for so long took its toll on the Russian. Isinbayeva no-heighted at the 2009 Berlin World Championships and placed a dismal fourth a year later at the World Indoors in Doha.
After taking a year-long break, the pole vaulting legend is back, having cleared a world-leading 5.02m last February, before storming back to the top at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.
The world record holder, at her best, is unbeatable. She is simply way ahead of her other competitors, despite showing signs of vulnerability the past few years. Isinbayeva is my hands down choice for the Olympic title. It is safe to say that no one can beat Yelena but herself.
The 2011 World Champion, Fabiana Murer (4.63m SB), leads the short list of challengers. Jennifer Suhr, the silver medalist from Beijing behind Isinbayeva, seemed to have regained her old form with season’s best clearances of 4.65m outdoors and 4.88m indoors. Isinbayeva’s long-time rival and compatriot, Svetlana Feofanova (Светлана Феофанова), and the 2009 World Champion, Anna Rogowska, are also be in the running for a spot on the podium.
Britain’s Holly Bleasdale has had a sterling indoor campaign, notching a new British record of 4.87m indoors. Only Isinbayeva and Suhr had jumped higher than Bleasdale indoors. The 21-year old has yet to find her form outdoors this season (4.35m), but has a 4.70m personal best from 2011.
Top Three Predictions
Gold: Yelena Isinbayeva
Silver: Fabiana Murer
Bronze: Jennifer Suhr/Anna Rogowska
Men’s Pole Vault
The demise of Steven Hooker – who once held Olympic, World Championships, World Indoor Championships, and Commonwealth Games titles – has paved the way for an excitingly, unpredicatable competition. Case in point is the Daegu World Championships, where the relatively unknown Paweł Wojciechowski (5.90m) and Lázaro Borges (5.90m) topped the competition, ahead of the favorite, Renaud Lavillenie (5.85m).
Among the top ten vaulters in the 2012 outdoor season, only Lavillenie (6.01m PB – 2009, outdoors, 6.03m PB – 2011, outdoors) and Brad Walker (6.04m PB – 2008, outdoors) are members of the elite six-meter club. The rest hover around the 5.90m height. The silver medalist from Beijing, Yevgeny Lukyanenko (Евгений Лукьяненко), is ranked below the top 10 (5.65m SB), but had cleared 6.01m back in 2008.
The other vaulters who have won major championship medals are Björn Otto (2nd, Istanbul 2012, 5.90m PB – 2007), Malte Mohr (2nd, Doha 2010, 5.72m PB – 2012), Romain Mesnil (2nd, Osaka 2007/Berlin 2009; 3rd – Lisbon 2001; 5.95m PB – 2003), and Denys Yurchenko Денис Юрченко (3rd, Budapest 2004; 3rd, Beijing 2008; 5.83m PB – 2008).
As the world leader, Lavillenie has the favorite tag. The resurgent elder statesmen, Walker and Otto, are surprisingly perched at the higher spots – above their younger competitors. Mohr and the Briton Steven Lewis look poised to make an impact in the world’s highest stage.
The men’s event is certainly a lot tougher to call! But here goes nothing. Who knows? Maybe Stevie Hooker has a few surprises left under his sleeve?
Top Three Predictions
Gold: Renaud Lavillenie
Silver: Brad Walker/Malte Mohr
Bronze: Romain Mesnil/Björn Otto
April 8, 2012Posted by on
Giorgia Benecchi is this week’s track beauty!
Like the great Yelena Isinbayeva and many other female pole vaulters, Benecchi, traces her roots from gymnastics. The Italian shifted to athletics in 2005, taking up a multitude of events – from the long jump to the 400m dash. Unsurprisingly, her talents gravitated to the pole vault, the most demanding event in athletics.
Her first valid mark as a greenhorn vaulter was a modest 2.80m, eventually notching 3.10m the same year. Two years later, Benecchi was jumping 3.60m as her technique improved. In 2009, she went over the 4.00m mark for the first time, eventually clearing a new personal best of 4.36m in 2010 – an Italian U23 record.
Benecci competed at the 2008 World Junior Championships, finishing 8th in qualifying. She also competed at the European Indoor Championships and the European U23 Championships in 2011,failing to progress to final. Nevertheless, her talent remains evident – her improvement, gradual. Benecchi’s future, should she remain healthy, injury-free and focused, holds much promise.
March 13, 2012Posted by on
Amongst the major international athletics championships, the World Indoors is the most underrated. Big name stars like Usain Bolt usually opt out of the biennial meet, especially in crucial Olympic years. Indoor athletics has a far smaller reach than its outdoor counterpart, with the smaller venues usually found in the frigid countries of the northern hemisphere.
Photo from Wikipedia
Nevertheless, it has that obscure charm. When I first saw the start lists of some events, I thought that the rest of the non-European, non-American world was underrepresented. I thought wrong. As soon as the 60m dash heats came out, a cacophony of athletes from small countries – from Mongolia in the Gobi desert to Fiji in the Pacific – competed amongst their more illustrious counterparts.
Even if I had to rely on live streaming links and my less-than-perfect internet connection to watch the World Indoors, I must say that I had a grand time. Despite the absence of most of the track & field titans, the festivities were certainly not devoid of memorable athletics moments. The three-day event has seen former World Indoor champions like Elena Isinbayeva Елена Гаджиевна Исинбаева, Justin Gatlin, and Valerie Adams re-emerge on the big stage, whilst playing host to bevy of promising talent.
One Gold, Three Silvers (Photo from Zimbio/Getty Images)
The women high jumpers deserve special mention too, as the troika of Antonietta Di Martino, Anna Chicherova Анна Владимировна Чичерова, and Ebba Jungmark shared a the second spot on the podium, behind the champion, the come-backing Chaunté Lowe (1.98m). The three athletes had equally identical sheets, with each clearing 1.95m.
The United States topped the overall standings with a staggering 18 medals, 10 of which were gold. Great Britain had 9, while African distance powerhouses Ethiopia and Kenya won 5 and 4, respectively.
The following list enumerates my favorite performances from Istanbul (aside from the 60m hurdles, of course!):
August 28, 2011Posted by on
Jiřina Ptácniková is this week’s track beauty!
The Czech pole vaulter is amongst the elite of the relatively-young athletics discipline. Ptácniková has a personal best of 4.66m set back in 2010. She has an indoor best of 4.60m, which she cleared as she missed out on the 2010 European Indoor Championships podium.
The 25-year year old has had quite a few close brushes with major championship medals. In 2010, she placed 5th in both the World Indoor Championships in Doha and the European Championships in Barcelona, where she was a mere centimeter away from her personal best. The Czech has a Universiade gold medal to her credit though, a feat she achieved in 2009.
Nevertheless, her improvement through the years have been steadily consistent. In a technical event where pre-competition favorites could falter (think Sergey Bubka Сергі́й Наза́рович Бу́бка during the 1992 Olympic Games) or relative no-names could shoot out of obscurity (think Rens Blom at the rain-soaked 2005 Helsinki World Champs), Ptácniková is within range to eke out a surprise performance.
Fittingly, Jirina won her first ever major international title in a rain-soaked final at the Helsinki European Championships. The Czech had a best clearance of 4.60m in the competition, winning over the German record holder Martina Strutz and Greek Nikoleta Kyriokopolou on countback.
July 15, 2011Posted by on
Before going to be last night, I watched clips Trans World Sport’s features on various track & field athletes. Aside from the regular Diamond League and Athletix Mag airings in Eurosport Asia, we Filipinos don’t get much athletics-related shows. The next best thing is Youtube. In this day and age of HD videos and broadband internet, the live-streaming site is the next best thing!
And of course, Usain Bolt!
The aforementioned athletes are quite a combination – even if you take Bolt out of the picture. Hooker is the reigning Olympic, World, World Indoor and Commonwealth Games pole vault champion. Then there’s the versatile Felix, who can excel in all the flat sprinting events. Gill, Barshim and Pedersen are all World Junior titlists from Moncton.
Among all the athletes featured above, I’d have to say that I’m most impressed with Jacko. To be able to throw the 7kg shot beyond twenty meters at such a young age, that’s certainly historic! For a sprint hurdler who has scant knowledge of the throws, seeing a teenager heave the youth shot put beyond twenty-four meters is interesting, to say the least!
Watch at least one clip and you’ll get an instant dose of extrinsic, athletics motivation!
June 20, 2011Posted by on
Thanks to Eurosport, I missed a good one-half of the final day events. But then again, watching an athletics meet on the boob tube (live at that!) is a rarity in the Philippines.
The conditions were a lot harsher than the bright, sunny first day. Winds were blowing as strong as 3.0m/s. The Men’s Pole Vault was even moved to an indoor venue, away from the rain-soaked Olympic Stadium in Stockholm. From the live updates of the EAA site, as well as informative on-the-go Twitter updates, I stayed updated with my favorite events.
Andy Turner makes it a hurdling double for the British, as he took victory in the sprint hurdles in 13.42s. Despite running into a 2.4 m/s headwind, the European champion won by a massive margin over France’s Garfield Darien (13.62s).
The Czech Republic’s Petr Svoboda, who had a fine indoor season, did not take part.
Russia’s Tatyana Dektyareva Татьяна Валерьевна Дектярева took the 100m hurdles over an in-form Alina Talai Алина Талай of Belarus, finalist at the 2011 Paris European indoor championships. The Russian stopped the clock at 13.16s to Talai’s 13.19s. Dektyareva and Talai ran in different heats. The Belorussian took the scalp of American-born British record holder Tiffany Ofili-Porter (13.28s) in the “A” race.
An in-form Carolina Klüft won second place behind the magnificent Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина at the long jump, as the former registered the best jump of her career since 2008, according to an EAA report.
Note: There are clips of Kluft’s and Klishina’s final jumps at the 100mH video above.
Christophe Lemaitre ran a classy 20.28s despite running into a 2.8 m/s head wind, giving France the full complement of twenty-four points as double sprinting champion.
Germany’s reigning world champion, Robert Harting, took the men’s Discus (65.63m). On the distaff side, Ukraine’s Kateryna Karsak (63.35m) took gold over Russia’s Darya Pishchalnikova Дарья Витальевна Пищальникова (61.09m)
Emma Green-Tregaro, fresh from beating the great Blanka Vlasic in New York a week earlier, clung on to a narrow 1.89m first place victory in the high jump. Green-Tregaro, struggling in the terrible conditions like the rest of the athletes, failed to clear 1.93m. Ruth Beitia and Irina Gordeyeva Ирина Гордеева finished second and third, respectively, with identical marks of 1.89m, but lost on countback to the in-form Swede.
Ukraine’s Maksym Mazuryk Максим Мазурик took the men’s pole vault, clearing a season’s best of 5.72m to edge out Germany’s Malte Mohr (5.72m) who lost narrowly lost on countback. France’s Renaud Lavillenie, the European indoor champion, languished at a dismal fifth place (5.50m) after missing all three attempt at the winning height.
Russia took both relays, solidifying its grasp on the overall championship. There was some controversy in the women’s 4x100m relay, with the British team getting initially disqualified then reinstated. In the men’s races, the British 4x400m squandered a potential podium finish after a bungled final baton exchange.
Russia scored a massive 385 points over Germany’s 331.5 points. Britain fell to fourth place (289) after the relay fiasco, finishing behind the inspired performance of Ukraine (304).
In general, the quality of the competition was quite high, as several world-leading marks and championship records were set. Despite the relatively low turnout of spectators, the team spirit was electric. Groups of athletes wearing the same colors were seen bunching together whilst watching the festivities. There was one particularly touching scene where Barbora Špotáková, fresh from competing at the javelin, gave a high five to compatriot Zuzana Hejnová, who had crossed the finish line after winning the 400m low hurdles. The Team Championships is a rare take on mostly individually oriented sport.
The next SPAR European Team Championships will be held in Britain in 2013, as Helsinki holds the European Outdoor Championships next year.
June 19, 2011Posted by on
I was looking forward to three hours’ worth of athletics action, thanks to Eurosport’s live coverage of the 2011 SPAR European Team Championships (ETC) in Stockholm, Sweden. Alas, it started feebly enough, with Eurosport airing a pre-Wimbledon tennis match for the first thirty minutes. The live feed finally started at around 9:30 PM, but stopped abruptly by 10:00 PM! It was annoying to say the least.
The European Team Championships is innovative in the sense that it’s a team competition, as the name suggests. This is in stark contrast to the Olympics, where total medal standings are not officially observes by the IOC, since the object of the Olympics is individual performance. Participating countries earn points depending on the performance of its respective men’s and women’s teams. Various European countries are divided into separate divisions (1st to 3rd divisions), with the cream of the crop slugging it out at aforesaid big league. The top performers of each division are promoted, whilst the minnows are relegated.
I was able to watch the women’s 100m dash, men’s shot put, men’s long jump and men’s 400m dash. After which, Eurosport showed nothing but tennis. Thanks to Youtube, I could still catch up with the highlights of the exciting, high quality competition.
The following is a brief rundown of my favorite athletics events:
1.) Men’s 100m dash:
The highlight of Day 1 would have to be Christophe Lemaitre’s 9.95s performance, his second national record in barely month’s time. Lemaitre had just ran 9.96s in Montreuil, almost beating Yohan Blake at the tape.
In Stockholm, Lemaitre sported a vastly improved start. The mercurial Dwain Chambers (10.07s) had a narrow half-step lead by halfway mark, where Lemaitre turned on his afterburners to set the fastest time by a European since the 2004 season, according to an EAA report. Nigerian-born Portuguese Francis Obikwelu, the European record holder at 9.86s, was a distant third.
2.) Men’s 400m Low Hurdles:
Britain’s Dai Greene stamped his class on the one-lap hurdle field, winning in a new Championship record time of 49.21s. Greene, the British team captain, is fresh from a successful 2010 season where he won both the Commonwealth and European outdoor crowns.
3.) Men’s Long Jump:
Menkov flew to 8.20m a mere centimeter away from Torneus’ 8.19m. The 2010 European Champion, Christian Reif of Germany, was in fourth place at 8.10m.
4.) Women’s Pole Vault:
Jiřina Ptáčníková of the Czech Republic (4.60m) and Aleksandra Kiryashova Александра Киряшова of Russia (4.50m) both set respective season’s best performance to round up the third and fourth place spots.
5.) Women’s Triple Jump:
Ukraine’s Olha Saladukha Ольга Саладуха set a new world-leading mark as she hopped, stepped and skipped to a new championship record of 14.85m.
Italy’s Simona La Mantia placed second with a best jump of 14.29m.
At the end of the first day, defending champion Russia is perched comfortably on top with 213 points, followed by Germany (183.5) and Britain (166).
I’ll be watching the replay of Day 1 later this afternoon and the live feed of Day 2 this evening. I wish to the high heavens that Eurosport won’s screw up this time!