Obiena Obiena: A cinch for Paris Olympics medal. Photo from Obiena’s Facebook page

Obiena a cinch for Paris Olympics medal

August 28, 2023 Robert Andaya 151 views

EJ Obiena’s historic silver medal finish in pole vault behind world champion Armand Duplantis in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last Sunday should give him extra motivation in next year’s Paris Olympics.

Obiena, the 27-year-old Filipino champion from Tondo, emerged as the worthiest challenger to Duplantis in the 13-man pole vault final under hot and humid conditions.

The Italy-based Obiena matched his Asian record of 6.00 meters to claim the silver medal behind only Duplantis’ 6.10 meters.

Of the 13 pole vaulters who made it Sunday’s final, Obiena and Duplantis were the only men left standing after clearing 6.0m.

When the bar was raised to 6.05m, Obiena fell short in his first attempt and Duplantis easily cleared the mark as he did many times in the past.

At 6.10m, Obiena failed in his two jumps and Duplantis wisely secured a second world title by easily soaring over the mark.

Still, Obiena thanked his Filipino fans for their support

“Thank you very much to everyone who screamed here in Budapest and made it feel like home, especially today at the awarding ceremony. Maraming salamat po,” said Obiena in his Facebook post
“You guys made this as sweet as it is. You guys are the real MVP!!!”

Obiena’s silver-medal finish also drew praises from Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

Obiena’s performance makes him a cinch for an Olympic medal next year in Paris, according to Tolentino.

“He’s making sure he’ll get there,” said Tolentino onMonday, a day after Obiena cleared 6.0 meters for the second time this year to finish with a silver medal in Budapest.

“It’s not only skills and physicality that’s gone elite on EJ, but his focus and mental approach to his sport,” Tolentino added.

It was only Duplantis who stood on Obiena’s way for the gold medal

The Swede won a second consecutive world championships title at 6.10m with Obiena providing Duplantis a tough challenge—the Asian record holder attempted 6.05 and even 6.10, proof of his warrior-attitude on the field.

“It’s a year to go before Paris, one full year for EJ to get better and better,” Tolentino said.

“He’ll have plenty of time to focus on setting the bar higher, and qualifying for Paris won’t be one of his challenges anymore, he’s in.”

But Tolentino is hoping for more Filipino athletes to earn tickets to Paris in the Olympic qualifying window that ends June 30 next year.

The Asian Games, Tolentino said, also offer berths to Paris.