Pole vault

EJ Obiena opens 2024 in style with golden vault in Croatia

Delfin Dioquino

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EJ Obiena opens 2024 in style with golden vault in Croatia

CELEBRATE. The Philippines' EJ Obiena in action during the men's pole vault competition in the 19th Asian Games.

PSC-POC Media Pool

Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena shines in his first event of the year as he sets a new meet record in the Memorial Josip Gasparac in Croatia

MANILA, Philippines – EJ Obiena started the new year just like he ended the last one: with a gold medal dangling around his neck.

Obiena opened the indoor season in style as he ruled the Memorial Josip Gasparac in Croatia on Tuesday, February 20 (Wednesday, February 21, Manila time).

Back in action after capping a stellar 2023 with a breakthrough Asian Games crown in Hangzhou, China, in September, the Filipino pole vault star added another title to his collection by setting a new meet record of 5.83m.

Obiena needed just one try to clear 5.83m as he shattered the previous meet record of 5.72m set by Greece’s Emmanouil Karalis and Poland’s Piotr Lisek last year.

Portugal’s Pedro Buaro settled for silver with 5.73m, while the USA’s Olen Tray Oates bagged bronze with 5.61m.

Currently ranked second in the world behind reigning Olympic champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden, Obiena skipped the first four heights before getting himself on the board by leaping past 5.51m in a single attempt.

The Asian record holder took two tries at 5.73m prior to securing the top prize at 5.83m as Buaro bowed out.

Hoping to push himself in his first event in five months as he gears up for the Paris Olympics, Obiena gave 5.93m a shot but to no avail.

Obiena was accompanied by coach Vitaly Petrov in Croatia as he competed against Saudi Arabia’s Hussain Al-Hizam and China’s Huang Bokai, who also train under the Ukrainian mentor.

Al-Hizam (5.51m) and Huang (5.31m) finished fourth and seventh, respectively.

Up next for Obiena is the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin, Germany, on February 23 before he goes to Glasgow, Scotland, for the World Indoor Championships on March 3. – 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.