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Obiena wins silver behind world record holder Duplantis


EJ Obiena pole vault athletics

FILE – The Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena reacts during the Pole Vault Men competition of the ISTAF INDOOR (Internationales Stadionfest) international athletics meeting on February 5, 2021 in Berlin. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / POOL / AFP)

World record-holder Armand Duplantis is the yardstick by which the finest pole vaulters on the planet measure themselves.

Ernest John Obiena faced the 21-year-old Swedish pole vault celebrity late Sunday and witnessed first-hand the challenges that lay ahead in the coming Tokyo Olympics after claiming the silver medal in the FBK Games in Hengelo, Netherlands.

Duplantis cleared 6.10 meters to rule the meet hailed as the gold standard in the World Athletics Continental Tour while Obiena showed progress with a 5.80-meter jump on his second tournament of the ongoing outdoor season.

“I improved the jump to 5.80 for a silver medal. I am doing my best for a better performance and I still need a lot of things to work on,” said Obiena, the current Asian champion and record-holder.

Obiena, who topped the Folksam Athletics Grand Prix in Gothenburg, Sweden at the start of the outdoor season last week with a 5.70-meter effort, elevated the bar to 5.86m in a bid to erase his personal best of 5.81m but couldn’t hurdle the height without flaw.

The 25-year-old Southeast Asian Games gold medalist has another top-lever outdoor competition in Mossingen, Germany on June 11 before returning to his training camp in Formia, Italy.

Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov will then evaluate his performance in the three tournaments where he participated and recalibrate the training program entering the final stretch of his Olympic preparation.

Duplantis tried to overshadow his world outdoor record of 6.15m after pushing it to 6.19m, but to no avail.

Dutchman Menno Vloom cleared the same height as Obiena but settled for the bronze via the countback. Vloom will compete with Obiena and Duplantis in the Tokyo Games on July 23-Aug. 8.

Obiena, who has been training and competing in Europe since December 2019, is seeking to end the country’s search for the elusive Olympic gold.

The second-generation Filipino pole vault great will compete in three more outdoor meets prior to his trip to the Japanese capital with seven weeks to go before the opening of the global quadrennial sportsfest.

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