Obiena cops first title of year in France | Inquirer Sports
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Obiena cops first title of year in France

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 04:20 AM January 30, 2023
ist EJ Obiena of Team Philippines poses during the medal ceremony for the Men's Pole Vault on day ten of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 24, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon.

Ernest John Obiena-AFP

Ernest John Obiena got his indoor season going on the upswing after vaulting for the gold in the Perche En Or in Roubaix, France, on Sunday.

Though the Filipino pole vault idol achieved the feat sans his fiercest rivals, Obiena’s 5.82-meter effort was proof of his gradual climb back to the peak of his game.

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The world’s No. 3 vaulter opened the indoor campaign by clearing 5.77m at the International Springer Meeting 2023 on Thursday last week in Cottbus, Germany, for the silver, just behind the 5.82m of the United States’ Sam Kendricks.

The pair of podium performances will be Obiena’s gauge for the coming Asian Athletics Indoor Championships on Feb. 10 to 12 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as he has clashed with basically the same competitors in the Cottbus and Roubaix tournaments.

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Huang Bokai of China saw action at the International Springer Meeting, but wound up deep in the standings after managing only 5.50m.

At the Perche En Or, Yao Jie of China placed second behind Obiena with a 5.75-m effort while Bokai ended up eighth with 5.40m.

Having choices

The abundance of tournaments during the indoor season is allowing the world’s best vaulters such as Olympic gold medalist and world champion Mondo Duplantis, Tokyo Olympics silver winner Christopher Nilsen of the United States and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz to choose from among a wide array of competitions.

Among the indoor meets where they could participate in are the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland, on Feb. 8 and the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais in Lievin, France, on Feb. 15.

These tournaments have been calendared under the 2023 World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold, including the World Indoor Tour Madrid on Feb. 22.

More than striking gold at the Asian indoors, Obiena will become more obsessed with breaking his own Asian indoor record of 5.93m that he recorded at the 2021 Golden Roof Challenge in Austria where he erased the 23-year standard of 5.92m accomplished by Kazakhstan’s Igor Potapovich.

While the 2024 Paris Olympics remains Obiena’s ultimate destination, the 27-year-old from Tondo, Manila, can make a return trip to the Summer Games in two ways, either via entry standards or through the World Athletics rankings at the end of the Olympic qualifying period. INQ

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