Local Sports

Champion pole vaulters endorse face masks while virtually competing

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on September 27, 2020 | Last updated on September 27, 2020 at 09.50 pm
Champion, pole vaulters, endorse, face masks, virtually competing

(Supplied photos)

A total cash prize of $50,000 was distributed among the athletes, as a recognition of their efforts and time.

Four world champions took part in the first-ever remote pole-vaulting competition, organised by the UAE-based Fine Hygienic Holding (FHH), wearing face masks with the aim of raising awareness on anti-Covid measures. The event was live-streamed across social media channels with more than 2.5 million viewers.

Brazilian Olympic Gold Medallist Thiago Braz clinched the first position in the competition after vaulting at an impressive 5.70m; Philippine's EJ Obiena, who has been training in Dubai in 2017 and is set to make his Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2021, came second in the live event; American pole vaulter Matt Ludwig, the 2020 US Indoor Champion, came in third; and Polish champion Pawel Wojciechowski, who is the current European pole-vaulting champion, was at the fourth place.

A total cash prize of $50,000 was distributed among the athletes, as a recognition of their efforts and time.

James Michael Lafferty, a former Olympic athletics team coach and CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding, said the competition was part of the company's vision to support the global sporting community, and Olympic athletes, affected by the pandemic. "Moreover, this was an opportunity to safely enjoy a sporting event, once again. We also wanted to reinstate the importance of ensuring precaution while indulging in sporting activities. Each of our contestants vaulted wearing the company's special Fine Guard Sports Mask, which is the only sports mask in the world, to promote safety and wellness."

He added that most of the competing athletes were set to participate in the Olympics this year and hoped the competition would motivate them to prepare ahead of Tokyo 2021. Lafferty is currently coaching Obiena for the Olympic event.

"A number of athletes are dealing with the fact that there is no telling when we will be able to compete again, but we need to remain fit and ready to go back to the sport when we are called to return," said Obiena.

"Events such as this help keep us motivated and prepared. It gives us the chance to perform on an international stage, which is key in terms of mental preparation. This format gave me the chance to compete when everything has come to a stand-still. Its newness gives me the opportunity to try something different. This event came at the right time as I'm preparing to make my Olympic debut next year."

Ludwig said that social distancing and wearing masks were the safest things for protection from the virus. "I would like to immensely thank the FHH for bringing us together virtually and pulling off a safe, exciting, global event."


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