GOLDEN. Ernest John Obiena leaps his way to the Philippines’ first gold at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on Saturday night (Sept. 30, 2023). His 5.90 meters is also a new Asiad record. (Photo courtesy of PSC-POC Media Pool)

HANGZHOU, China – As expected, World No. 2 pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena gave the Philippines a gold medal at the 19th Asian Games here on Saturday night, exactly a week since the meet opened.

The 27-year-old Obiena cleared 5.90 meters to outclass the competition at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium for the country’s first gold after a silver and six bronze medals.

His feat erased the Asiad record 5.75m of Japanese Seito Yamamoto set in the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang edition.

China’s Huang Bokai and Saudi Arabia’s Hussain al Hizam both had 5.65m but the local bet took the silver on countback.

“I didn’t want to stop at 5.90,” Obiena told reporters, referring to his attempt at 6.02m. “I’m excited to take this medal, put it on a shelf, but I would have liked to hit a record in front of an Asian crowd. That would have been amazing.”

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have it in me, but this is one of the biggest stadiums I’ve been in and one of the most amazing crowds,” he added.

Obiena was the first Filipino to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics after a 5.82-m finish at the Bauhaus-Galan tournament in Stockholm, Sweden in July.

He finished second to World No. 1 and hometowm favorite Armand Duplantis.

There are more medal hopefuls after Carlo Paalam joined Eumir Marcial in the men’s boxing quarterfinals, beating Uulu Munarbek Seiitbek of Kyrgyzstan at Hangzhou gymnasium.

The 25-year-old Paalam, silver medalist in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, pulled off a 4-1 win in the round of 16 of the 54 kg class.

The Gilas men’s 3×3 basketball team is likewise in the quarterfinals after a 15-14 squeaker over Kazakhstan at Deqing Geographic Information Park Basketball Court.

However, the men’s 5×5 team lost to Jordan and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, 62-87.

Gilas, which had beaten Bahrain and Thailand, will face Group D No. 3 Qatar in a knockout match on Monday for a seat in the quarters.

On Sunday, Daniel Patrick Caluag will try to duplicate his gold-medal feat in the Incheon games exactly nine years ago when he and Patrick Coo vie in cycling’s BMX Racing.

At 36 years old, Caluag will be the oldest rider on the track. (PSC-POC Media Pool/PNA)