WORLD NO. 3 pole-vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena fell short in his bid to breach the six-meter plateau and settled for a bronze medal finish in the Silesia Diamond League in Poland over the weekend.
The 26-year-old Asian record-holder managed to just clear 5.73 meters, but it was enough to snare him a podium finish in a star-studded event topped by world champion and record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden, who set a new meet mark of 6.10m.
Norwegian Sondre Guttormsen snatched the silver after clearing an identical 5.73m and edging the Filipino star via count back after posting the height right on his first attempt compared the latter’s second try.
Mr. Obiena went for 5.83m but failed in three attempts.
The clearance was way below the 5.94m Mr. Obiena registered in capturing the country’s breakthrough medal — a bronze — in the World Championships done in Eugene, Oregon late last month.
But at least, Mr. Obiena had bested two marque rivals in World Championships and Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Christopher Nilsen of the United States and 2016 Rio Games gold winner Thiago Braz of Brazil. Mr. Nilsen finished only fifth with a 5.53m, while Mr. Braz did not even clear 5.53m in three tries.
Mr. Obiena will try to accomplish what he had failed to do as he is scheduled to compete in another event in Hungary in a few days. — Joey Villar