Obiena logs smashing upset for ‘Diamond’ gold | Inquirer Sports
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Obiena logs smashing upset for ‘Diamond’ gold

/ 05:25 AM September 04, 2022
Philippines' Ernest John Obiena competes in the men's pole vault event during the men's one hour race during the IAAF Diamond League "Memorial Van Damme" athletics meeting at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on September 2, 2022. (Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR / BELGA / AFP) / Belgium OUT

EJ Obiena clears the bar for his first victory against the previously unbeatable Armand Duplantis. —AFP

BRUSSELS—Here’s a number that has cloaked US-born Swede Armand “Mondo” Duplantis in an aura of invincibility in the global pole vault stage: 17.

That’s the number of competitions he had participated in this season until Friday—all of them victories.

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And here’s the number that cracked the armor of the 22-year-old US-born Swede: 1. That’s his only loss so far, one that left him shaking his head on Friday at King Baudouin Stadium.

It’s a number of significance for EJ Obiena, too. The Filipino pole vaulter won his first Diamond League gold after clearing 5.91 meters on his third attempt. The world No. 3 also shook his head in disbelief over his latest achievement.

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“It took a lot of luck, a good day and some excellent calls to beat Mondo today,” said Obiena.

Duplantis failed three times at 5.91m, a shock result for a person who owns both the indoor and outdoor world records of the sport.

“I did a lot of things poorly technically,” said Duplantis, who added that the loss would spur him to better.

“It’s rare for me to jump the way I did. Maybe I needed a bit of a wake-up call. I’ve got to come back next year and do something more special for the people that came out,” he said.

Duplantis maintained that he felt he could have jumped higher.

“But I didn’t jump as I would have liked, for sure. I am human and I make mistakes and I definitely made some today. I didn’t find the good rhythm on the runway today. I was just thinking about the wrong things. It happens sometimes. It’s not that easy. You need to be in the exact angle and you need the speed to take off and I didn’t find that today.”

American Chris Nilsen finished third with 5.71m in the battle of the top three pole vaulters in the world.

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Everyone tired

“Third with 5.71m is all I can say. No one produced any good marks today except Ernest John with a first Diamond League win,” he said. “Everyone is a little tired with the end of the season. I am ready to go to the Diamond League finals. In Zurich, the goal is a top three and 5.90m.

“If I make this I will shoot for 6m. I maybe need to do some speedwork because I felt kind of sluggish today.”Obiena, too, has a number in mind to shoot for as the stars of the sport head for Zurich for the Diamond League final.

“It’s always my goal to win, but I definitely have the magic number of 6m on my mind. That’s what I’m training for and I really think that I’m capable of jumping that height,” Obiena said. “It’s only a matter of time and some good circumstances.”

Of Duplantis 17 victories, 14 have come with him sailing past six meters, including the world indoor gold in Belgrade in March and world outdoor honors in Oregon in July. Both were achieved with world record vaults, of 6.20 and 6.21m respectively.

Duplantis said he would aim to improve by the time of next week’s finals in Zurich.

“In Zurich I’ll try to come back a little stronger than here. I want to put up another good performance at the end of the year and end on a high.”

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