EJ Obiena ends Olympic bid, crashes out of men’s pole vault final
MANILA, Philippines—Filipino bet EJ Obiena missed out on the podium of the men’s pole vault competition in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old, who is ranked sixth in the world and the lone athlete from the region to make the final, fell out of the medal race in his Olympic debut after failing to clear 5.80 meters after three attempts. He finished 11th overall.
In a tense stretch, Obiena had to fight for his position with the event committee after a technical malfunction on his third and final attempt at 5.80m.
Sensing that the uprights were moving during his third attempt, Obiena argued that his time should’ve been stopped for his final run-up.
Obiena was given another chance to complete his jump but he still couldn’t clear the 5.80m bar.
On Wednesday, Obiena confirmed that the issue had something to do with the timer and added that it involved a “gray area.” He added that the officials were “kind enough” to let him redo his last attempt.
“He pointed out the discrepancy in the timing device which indicate that when he started to run toward the cross bar, there were 56 (seconds) left before the deadline for vaulting from the start of his run up,” Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association chief Philip Ella Juico said. “But when he glanced back at the pit area after he aborted his third attempt, the clock said 15 seconds.
“EJ couldn’t believe that it took him about 41 seconds to finish his performance. The few seconds left didn’t allow him enough time to start again if he’s granted a fourth leap as a result of a successful protest. That’s how I understood it.”
World record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden won the gold medal in a flawless performance, not fouling even once on the way to clearing 6.02m. With his fellow competitors cheering him on, he attempted to set a new Games and world record of 6.19m, but couldn’t do it.