MANILA, Philippines – Coronavirus forced EJ Obiena to miss time, but it did not derail his momentum.
Obiena showed he hardly lost a step after being sidelined due to a positive COVID-19 result as he posted his season-best clearance to rule the Taby Stavhoppsgala in Sweden on Tuesday, June 28 (Wednesday, June 29, Manila time).
The Filipino pole vault star soared past 5.92 meters – a centimeter off his Asian record – to clinch the top prize and best 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil.
Braz held the pole position after clearing 5.82m in just a single attempt, while Obiena needed two tries at the height to advance.
However, 5.92m proved too high for Braz as he exhausted all his three attempts, allowing Obiena to capture the gold when he hurdled the bar in his second crack.
With the gold in the bag, the 26-year-old sought to shatter his Asian record of 5.93m by going for 6.01m but recorded three straight fouls.
Coming off golden performances in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam and European City of Sports in Italy in May, Obiena sat out almost half of June after testing positive for COVID-19.
He missed the Oslo Bislett Games in Norway and the Meeting de Paris in France earlier this June.
Norway’s Simen Guttormsen nailed bronze with 5.72m, while Australia’s Kurtis Marschall, Great Britain’s Harry Coppell, and USA’s Luke Winder all finished with 5.62m.
Obiena will stay in Sweden for the Stockholm Diamond League on Thursday (Friday, Manila time). – Rappler.com
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