By Mark Allan Cervantes
(July 31, 2021) – EJ Obiena advanced to the finals of the pole vault competition in the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday and is now one step closer to securing another podium finish for the Philippines.
The pride of Tondo, Manila was one of 14 athletes who moved on to the medal round after recording a clearance of 5.75 meters, as he finished the preliminary round at 10th overall.
The 25-year-old Obiena started strong in the competition, deciding to skip the opening mark of 5.30 meters and headed straight to 5.50 meters for his first attempt, which he easily cleared.
Obiena showed some hesitation during his first attempt in the 5.65 meters, as he needed to restart his run towards the pit before clearing the height to move on to the next mark.
The 2019 Southeast Games Gold medalist also had some difficulty clearing 5.75 meters as he committed two consecutive fouls, putting himself in danger of being eliminated by committing another. But ultimately, a visibly more focused Obiena came up clutch, as he cleared it in his nail-biting final attempt, securing him a spot in the finals.
Topping the field were Germany’s Bo Kanda Lita Baehre and United States’ Christopher Nielsen who didn’t commit any fouls in the entire contest. They were followed by Sweden’s Armand Duplantis, USA’s KC Lightfoot, and Australia’s Kurtis Marchall.
The other spots in the finals were secured by Renaud Lavillenie of France, Menno Vloon of Netherlands, Thiago Braz of Brazil, Emmanouil Karalis of Greece, Poitr Lisek of Poland, Harry Coppell of Great Britain, Ersu Sasma of Turkey, and Oleg Zernikel of Germany.
The finals will be held on Tuesday, as Obiena tries to add to the country’s two-medal haul in the Tokyo Olympics. (PM)