Pole vault

EJ Obiena regains form as Olympics nears, claims gold in Los Angeles Grand Prix

Delfin Dioquino

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EJ Obiena regains form as Olympics nears, claims gold in Los Angeles Grand Prix

FOCUS. The Philippines' EJ Obiena in action during the men's pole vault final in the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

Aleksandra Szmigiel/REUTERS

EJ Obiena bounces back from his ninth-place finish in the World Athletics Indoor Championships as he captures his third gold medal of the year in the run-up to the Paris Olympics

MANILA, Philippines – Back in action after a two-month break, Filipino pole vault star EJ Obiena returned to his winning ways.

Obiena picked up another gold medal in his buildup for the Paris Olympics as he ruled the Los Angeles Grand Prix in the United States on Saturday, May 18 (Sunday, May 19, Manila time).

He cleared 5.80m to top the eight-man field that included four other members of the exclusive six-meter club in KC Lightfoot, Chris Nilsen, and Sam Kendricks of the United States and Sondre Guttormsen of Norway.

It was a bounce-back performance for Obiena after he endured a disappointing ninth-place finish in the World Athletics Indoor Championships in March in Glasgow, Scotland.

There, Obiena settled for 5.65m – his lowest clearance in almost a year since he hurdled the same height when he defended his throne in the Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in May 2023.

In Los Angeles, Obiena emerged as the only pole vaulter to leap past 5.80m – the standard mark he set for himself in the run-up to Paris – as he captured his third gold medal of the year.

Lightfoot and Norway’s Simen Guttormsen shared the second spot with identical 5.70m clearances.

Nilsen also soared past 5.70m but settled for fourth due to countback, while Kendricks placed sixth with 5.60m behind compatriot Jacob Wooten.

Sondre Guttormsen did not start.

Obiena, who is ranked second in the world, said in March that “things are going the way we planned” as he looks to challenge reigning Olympic champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden in Paris in July. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.