By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Tokyo Olympics-bound Filipino pole-vaulter EJ Obiena wound up on the podium once again, winning bronze at the Golden Gala competition in Italy on Friday (Manila time).
Twenty-four-year-old Obiena cleared a new season-best of 5.80 meters and held his own against a solid field of competitors in the Rome leg of the Diamond League.
It was a continuation of the steady form the Filipino has had since resuming his season, disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Obiena cleared a similar height with silver-winning Ben Broeders of Belgium but the latter did it in two attempts while the former had it on his third try.
Winning gold was Sweden’s Armand Duplantis, who cleared a record-breaking height of 6.15 meters. It is now the new outdoor world record, eclipsing the 26-year record of 6.14 meters set by Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka in 1994.
Rounding out the top 5 were Renaud Lavillenie (5.70 meters) of France and Harry Coppell (5.60 meters) of Great Britain.
In a post on his Facebook page following his outing in Rome, Mr. Obiena said he was happy to have won his third bronze and sixth medal since resuming his season and recording a season-best output.
“It was a tough competition but it pushed me to record a 5.8m season’s best,” he said, adding that he is looking forward to his next competitions.
Last week, Mr. Obiena won gold at the 59th Ostrava Golden Spike in the Czech Republic.
Mr. Obiena won gold in last year’s Southeast Asian Games and is one of four Filipino athletes already assured of a spot in the Olympic Games in 2021 in Japan, along with gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno.
Next for him is the final tournament in the Diamond League in Doha, Qatar.