MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena is planning to bring his world-class colleagues to the Philippines for an invitational competition in 2023.
Among those whom Obiena plans to invite are reigning world and Olympic champion Mondo Duplantis, world No. 2 Chris Nilsen, and 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz.
"The objective is to bring them here after the outdoor season is over," Obiena told Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino in one of their conversations since the world championships bronze medalist came back home for a vacation with his girlfriend, German long jumper Caroline Joyeaux, a week ago.
Tolentino readily agreed with Obiena's idea and was quick to offer a famous spot in Tagaytay City as a potential venue.
"The Picnic Grove here could be an ideal venue," said Tolentino.
The set-up, according to Obiena, will be similar to events in Europe -- a street venue where the runway, box, crossbars and landing area are all portable or collapsible.
"With the Taal Volcano as backdrop, what more could you ask for—a world-class pole vault action in one of the most picturesque tourist attractions in the country," said Tolentino. "Every jump will be postcard-perfect."
The European outdoor season ends in early September. With the Asian Games in Hangzhou set on the same month next year, Obiena and Tolentino are looking at late September or early October as a potential date for their planned invitational.
"The event will be a spectator-friendly event, and it's planned that it be sanctioned [by World Athletics]," said Obiena.
"It's great for tourism and the Philippines will be in the international pole vaulting map," added Tolentino. "It's very doable despite next year's busy schedule. It's going to be a big event so we have to plan this carefully."
The Philippine Sports Commission, now chaired by Noli Eala, would play a crucial role in the event, according to Tolentino, who also agreed with Obiena to bring in some three-dozen world class pole vaulters, both men and women.
"We are hoping to work with POC and PSC, it's a mix collaboration," said Obiena. "I would also love to see Hackett de los Santos experience and compete with the best athletes."
Delos Santos won the silver medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam last May, where Obiena won his second gold.
The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, under new president Terry Capistrano, will also play a major role.
"This is going to be historic, that's why I am pushing for it," said Obiena, who also intends to encourage the PSC, local government units, and big business to put up more pole vaulting venues around the country. "Pole vault is a standard competition so it's doable."