Athletics: Rookie Cole nips Delos Santos, seals ticket to Cambodia SEA Games with pole vault win

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Mar 26 2023 09:22 PM

Elijah Cole drapes the Philippine flag over his shoulders after winning his nerve-wracking duel with Hokett delos Santos in the men's pole vault. PATAFA
Elijah Cole drapes the Philippine flag over his shoulders after winning his nerve-wracking duel with Hokett delos Santos in the men's pole vault. PATAFA

ILAGAN, Isabela - Pole vaulters Hokett delos Santos and US-based Elijah Cole keenly knew what was at stake when they clashed in what turned to be the last event Sunday at the close ICTSI Philippine Athletics Championships here Sunday.

In a riveting down-the-wire duel, Cole beat the injured Delos Santos with a jump of 5.05 meters on his first try for the gold and booked his passage to the 32nd Cambodia Southeast Asian Games at the windswept Ilagan Sports Complex here.

Hampered by a strained left calf, the hometown bet performed valiantly but had to settle for silver in clearing five meters flat and will miss the the Cambodian edition of the sportsfest after bagging a silver in the 32nd Vietnam Games last year. 

Long jumper Janry Ubas, who also competes in the decathlon, bagged the bronze in clearing 4.65 meters in the meet organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and CEL Logistics.

The two athletes were contesting one of two slots in the event since the other was already reserved for defending SEA Games men's pole vault champ and world bronze medalist Ernest John Obiena.

Obiena skipped the competition and is currently training in Formia, Italy for his buildup to the Cambodia Games. 

"Of course it is a great honor to represent the Philippines in Camboida , although I wasn't really able to do what I wanted here," said Cole, who owns a personal best jump of 5.41 meters.

"The third attempt is always scary and then with the wind it makes it the worst possible thing you could ever deal. It was literally the worst case scenario because of the weather and changing poles on the last attempt," he said, referring to his start at with the bar set at 5.80 meters, muffing his first two tries.

Delos Santos, who boasts a personal best of 5.10 meters, revealed that he his strained his left calf three weeks before the meet and was not a 100 percent fit.

"But I had no choice but to compete despite the fact that my left leg, which I use for takeoff, was hurting," said the athlete, who began at the 4.60-meter mark, with a sad face.

Mark Harry Diones reasserted his superiority over Vietnam's Tran Van Dien in finishing 1-2 in the men's triple jump in 15.81 and 15.73 meters, respectively.

Diones bagged a silver medal while Tran claimed the bronze in the Vietnam edition of the regional sports showcase held in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi a year ago.

Mark Anthony Estuya timed 50:10.84 in winning the men's 10,000-meter walk in the other individual events.

Iraq and Malaysia took the men's and women's 4x400-meter relays, respectively, to cap the five-day meet.

The Iraqi men's quartet ruled the event in 3:08.62 while the Malaysians took the gold on the distaff side (3:52.72).