Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
EJ obiena World Athletics Championship pole vault

August 23, 2023 Philippines’ EJ Obiena in action during qualifying of the Men’s Pole Vault in the World Athletics Championship in Budapest, Hungary. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

EJ Obiena advanced to the men’s pole vault finals at the ongoing 2023 World Athletics Championships on Wednesday, setting up a title showdown with world champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden and American Christopher Nilsen.

The Filipino Asian champion cleared 5.75 meters at the steamy National Athletics Centre in Budapest, Hungary to again move into medal contention after capturing a historic bronze in the Oregon edition of the world championships last year.

Obiena only attempted twice, the first one at 5.70m prior to joining 11 other competitors in the finale scheduled early Sunday morning (1:25 a.m. Manila time).

Tied with the reigning gold medalist Duplantis and last year’s silver medalist and world No. 2-ranked Nilsen, Obiena has made it clear that he doesn’t intend to end up on the medal podium behind them.

The Italy-based Obiena, ranked No. 3 in the world, is the last Filipino standing at the ongoing Budapest worlds after hurdlers Eric Cray (men’s 400m hurdles) and Robyn Brown (women’s 400m hurdles) bowed out of contention in their preliminary heats.

Duplantis, also the reigning Olympic gold medalist, owns the world standard of 6.22 meters, way ahead of Nilsen and Obiena for points accumulated in the world placings.

Obiena shouldn’t worry only about Duplantis and Nilsen with Australia’s Kurtis Marschall likewise effortlessly earning a finals ticket.

Also seeking to land on the podium are finalists Jie Yao of China, Zach Mcwhorter of the United States, Thibaut Collet of France, Turkey’s Ersu Sasma, Poland’s Robert Sobera and Piotr Lisek, Belgium’s Ben Broeders and Italy’s Claudio Stecchi.

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By Sandra Winters

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