EJ Obiena sets out to become first Filipino to qualify for Paris 2024 | Inquirer Sports
AIMING TO CLEAR 5.82 METERS

EJ Obiena sets out to become first Filipino to qualify for Paris 2024

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 04:30 AM June 26, 2023

EJ Obiena, here thumping the field in the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia last month, is determined to punch a ticket to Paris2024 as early as next month. —AFP

EJ Obiena, here thumping the field in the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia last month, is determined to punch a ticket to Paris 2024 as early as next month. —AFP

There will be exactly one figure inside EJ Obiena’s mind when he campaigns in three tournaments starting next week: 5.82 meters.

And that’s a height he has cleared a few times in the very recent past, making him come into the start of the qualifying period for the Paris 2024 Olympics with the confidence that he needs to get it done and get it done at the soonest possible time.

“The goal is to qualify (for the Olympics) outright as early as possible,’’ said Obiena, eyeing a return trip to the Games after his Tokyo campaign in 2021 didn’t end well.

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Any tournament sanctioned by World Athletics starting July 1 can be used as a springboard to the glitzy French capital, with the Bauhaus-Galan on July 2 in Stockholm, Sweden, the first of those events as Obiena has a clear shot at becoming the first Filipino to qualify for the Games outright.

‘I am healthy’

Obiena shares the proud moment with longtime coach Vitaly Petrov. —EJ OBIENA’S INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

Obiena shares the proud moment with longtime coach Vitaly Petrov. —EJ OBIENA’S INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

Up next for the world’s No. 3 vaulter is the Meeting International de Sotteville in Rouen, France, on July 7 before he flies Asia-bound to Bangkok, Thailand, on July 12 to 16 with coach Vitaly Petrov for the Asian Athletics Championship.

“I’m getting ready for these tournaments and the good thing now is I am physically healthy,’’ said Obiena.

Prior to his stint in Stockholm where Olympic and world champion Armand Duplantis is expected to dazzle in front of a hometown crowd, Obiena gets his feet wet at the Ostrava Golden Spike in Czech Republic on Tuesday.

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Since Tokyo, the 6-foot-2 son of former pole vault standout Emerson Obiena progressed exponentially, resetting his personal best many times over that reached its climax with a six-meter jump at the Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway two weeks ago.

Against the best

He grabbed a bronze medal in the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, United States, the first-ever for a Filipino in the global track and field championships. He even cracked the aura of invincibility that Duplantis had after beating the world No. 1 in the Belgium edition of the Diamond League last year.

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Obiena faced Duplantis nearly two weeks back at the Oslo Diamond League-Bislett Games and placed third behind the world record-holder and second-ranked Christopher Nielsen of the United States.

Obiena will meet these titans again in the 2023 World Athletics Championships on Aug. 19 to 27 in Budapest, Hungary, before the 27-year-old from Tondo, Manila, aims for the gold in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, on Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 where he is installed as the solid pick to win gold.

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“Hopefully, I’ve already qualified (to the Olympics) by then. My drive for winning remains important and I have to keep it that way,’’ said Obiena.

TAGS: EJ Obiena, pole vault, Sports

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