Pole vault

Off day: EJ Obiena far from best in World Indoor Championships, places 9th

Delfin Dioquino

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Off day: EJ Obiena far from best in World Indoor Championships, places 9th

MIDAIR. The Philippines' Ernest John Obiena in action during the men's pole vault final in the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships.

Hannah Mckay/REUTERS

Coming off a pair of golden performances, EJ Obiena struggles in the World Athletics Indoor Championships as he finishes at the bottom half of the 11-man field topped by Armand Duplantis

MANILA, Philippines – As superb as EJ Obiena may be, he still has his off days.

And unfortunately for the Filipino pole vaulter, his came during the biggest event of the season as Obiena placed ninth in the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, on Sunday, March 3.

Seeking to become the first Filipino to win medals in both the indoor and outdoor world championships, Obiena cleared just 5.65m and finished at the bottom half of the 11-man field topped by Sweden’s Armand Duplantis.

A foul in his first vault augured ill for Obiena, who needed two tries to hurdle 5.65m before he eventually crashed out of contention.

Unsuccessful in two attempts at 5.85m, Obiena opted to raise the height to 5.90m for his final chance but to no avail as he hit the bar on his way up.

Ranked second in the world behind Duplantis, Obiena failed to weave the same magic when he prevailed in his first two events of the indoor season.

The 28-year-old from Tondo, Manila, soared past 5.83m in ruling the Memorial Josip Gasparac in Croatia and broke the Asian indoor record with a vault of 5.93m as he reigned supreme in the ISTAF Indoor Berlin in Germany.

A repeat of his 5.93m clearance would have netted Obiena a silver to add to his collection that includes two medals in the outdoor edition of the global showdown: a bronze in 2022 and a silver in 2023.

Duplantis, the world record holder and reigning Olympic champion, shook off his early struggles as he defended his indoor throne with a 6.05m mark.

On the brink of a premature exit after committing back-to-back fouls at 5.85m, Duplantis rediscovered his deadly form to ward off a gutsy challenge from the USA’s Sam Kendricks, who settled for silver with 5.90m.

Kendricks led the pack for the majority of the competition as he used just one try in each of the first five heights – 5.50m, 5.65m, 5.75m, 5.85m, and 5.90m – only to witness Duplantis prove why he is the best in the world.

Greece’s Emmanouil Karalis bagged bronze with 5.85m.

The competition provided a preview of the Paris Games as eight Olympic-bound pole vaulters saw action in Glasgow.

Aside from Obiena, Duplantis, and Karalis, also qualified for Paris are Australia’s Kurtis Marschall, France’s Thibaut Collet, the Netherlands’ Menno Vloon, Turkey’s Ersu Sasma, and Poland’s Piotr Lisek.

World No. 3 Chris Nilsen, the silver medalist in the last Tokyo Games, also participated as he wound up at fourth with 5.75m.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ John Tolentino reached the semifinals of the men’s 60m hurdles on Saturday, clocking 7.68 seconds for 18th place overall.

Only the top eight, though, advanced to the finals. – 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.