EJ Obiena put himself in the equation to win it all before pocketing the silver medal for another historic finish on the global stage at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The Filipino pole vault celebrity duplicated his own Asian record of six meters, but couldn’t clear 6.05m on a succeeding attempt, eventually rewarding Sweden’s Armand Duplantis a second consecutive title. Obiena climbed a flight higher on the podium than his previous bronze finish last year in the Oregon, United States edition of the world championships after clearing his personal best on his second try. Christopher Nilsen of the United States and Australia’s Kurtis Marschall both failed to hurdle six meters and shared third-place honors following their 5.95m jump. Without a foul and a clear path on the way to the gold medal, Duplantis raised the bar at 6.23 in a bid to reset his own world record of 6.22, but faltered thrice.
Armand Duplantis of Sweden and EJ Obiena of Philippines celebrate after competing in men’s pole vault final during day 8 of the 2023 World Athletics Championships on August 26, 2023 in Budapest. Photo: Vegard Grøtt / BILDBYRÅN
As the only Filipino to stand on the medal podium of the world track and field championships, Obiena showed exceptional progress since placing third the previous year. The Italy-based Obiena, who learned the ropes from renowned Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov, was the first Asian to join the elite six-meter club two months ago at the Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway. The 27-year-old Tokyo Olympian then solidified his reign as the continent’s best during the Asian championships in Bangkok, Thailand. Obiena cleared 5.90 and 5.95 without a hitch and committed a foul on his first try at six meters before a technically good jump on the next attempt. Obiena intends to close out his season with another victory in the coming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China next month prior to mapping out his preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
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