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          HISTORIC WIN: Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena with Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) president Philip Ella Juico (left) and marketing communications director Edward Kho. (Photo grabbed from Edward Kho's Facebook post)

          MANILA -- For his historic win at the Asian Athletics Championships last week, pole vaulter Ernest John "EJ" Obiena was unanimously chosen by the Tabloid Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) as its Athlete of the Month for April.

          The 23-year-old Obiena cleared 5.71 meters to beat Chinese bets Zhang Wei and Huang Bokai during the 23rd edition of the Asian Athletics Championships held from April 21 to 24 at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

          Obiena's record erased the 5.70 meters registered by Grigoriy Yegorov of Kazakhstan when the tournament was hosted by Manila in 1993.

          Obiena's gold medal was the first by the Philippines in the continental competition since long jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang triumphed in 2009.

          "EJ Obiena's personal success and tournament record, which ended the country's decade-long gold medal drought in the Asian Athletics Championships is clearly the most inspiring achievement by the Filipino athletes this April," TOPS president Ed Andaya said in a statement on Monday.

          "With his feat, Obiena also qualified to the World Championships in September," added Andaya, also sports editor of People's Tonight.

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          Other winners of the TOPS Athlete of the Month this year were boxer Manny Pacquiao (January), swimmer Mikaela Jasmine Mojdeh (February) and pole vaulter Natalie Uy (March).

          TOPS is composed of editors, reporters and photographers from the country's leading tabloids. It has a weekly "Usapang Sports" forum every Thursday at the National Press Club and sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, National Press Club, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Community Basketball Association (CBA) and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drink with live streaming from Glitter Livestreaming. (PNA)

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