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MANILA, Philippines – EJ Obiena climbed to world No. 2 in the latest men’s pole vault world rankings, a career-best as the Filipino athletics star rose one spot.
Obiena, the first Filipino to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, dislodged American Christopher Nilsen, according to the latest list released by World Athletics on July 18.
The 27-year-old from Tondo now just stands behind world No. 1 Armand Duplantis of Sweden, who kept a tight grip of the top spot with 1569 points.
Obiena amassed a score of 1432, four points more than No. 3 Nilsen (1428).
USA’s Sam Kendricks (1352) and Brazil’s Thiago Braz (1351) round out the top five.
“Your very own skinny kid from Tondo, alumni of CKSC (Chiang Kai Shek College) and UST (University of Santo Tomas), is now WORLD NUMBER TWO,” Obiena posted on his social media accounts.
“Thank you to everyone who made this possible, and my deepest gratitude to those who went to war so that I could continue this dream,” he added.
Obiena successfully defended his Asian Athletics Championships gold medal, even setting a new meet record of 5.91 meters in Bangkok, Thailand last July 16.
The Asian record holder in pole vault was just one of two Filipinos to win a gold medal in the event, following sprinter Robyn Brown, who secured the women’s 400m hurdles event.
Obiena has also secured a podium finish in all of the eight events he joined this year, and hurdled at least 5.80m in five of them.
Last June, Obiena reset the continental standard when he became the first Asian in history to clear 6.0 meters to win the gold in a Norway competition.
Obiena also continued to assert his dominance in the Southeast Asian Games, winning a third straight gold when he leapt 5.65m amid a heavy downpour in Cambodia last May.
Despite his latest feats, Obiena remains committed to being better.
“I’m currently still not amazed. I think I’m capable of doing more and doing better,” Obiena told reporters on Monday, July 17, in an online press conference.
“There are still a lot of things that I need to do and accomplish before Paris.” – Rappler.com