With qualifying mark within reach, EJ Obiena focuses on getting better | Inquirer Sports

With qualifying mark within reach, EJ Obiena focuses on getting better

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 05:15 AM June 29, 2023

EJ Obiena (right) knows he has a lot of work to do to overcomechief rivals Christopher Nilsen (left) and pole vault yardstick Armand Duplantis (middle). —AFP

EJ Obiena (right) knows he has a lot of work to do to overcome chief rivals Christopher Nilsen (left) and pole vault yardstick Armand Duplantis (middle). —AFP

After making the elite 6-meter club of pole vault, EJ Obiena proved the Olympic qualifying standard is within his reach.

But he’s looking to achieve more than just a ticket to the big show in Paris next year.

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Obiena capped his warmup in the runup to the Olympic qualification season with another podium jump at the Ostrava Golden Spike 2023 in Czech Republic on Wednesday.

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The world No. 3 twice finished third in his last two meets where Olympic and world champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden, the sport’s charismatic yardstick, reigned on both occasions.

“Still lots of figuring out to do,’’ Obiena posted on his Facebook after claiming the bronze medal with a 5.90-meter performance.

One thing that doesn’t need guessing is whether he can make a second straight Olympic appearance. The start of the qualification season unravels this weekend with the qualifying mark, pegged at 5.82m, now looking pedestrian in the light of Obiena’s recent accomplishments.

Obiena’s Paris quest begins on Sunday at the Bauhaus-Galan meet in Stockholm, Sweden, where the 27-year-old Asian record holder aims to become the first Filipino to seal a spot in Paris.

“The preparation and training never stops, but I would love to qualify as early as possible,’’ said Obiena.

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Rarefied group

If the Sweden stint doesn’t pan out, Obeina can end his wait in several tournaments in July. The Filipino star is slated for appearances in Meeting International de Sotteville in Rouen, France, on July 7 and the Asian Athletics Championship on July 12 to 16 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Obiena entered a rarefied group when he cleared six meters at the Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway early this month, the first for an Asian to breach that height.

Obiena then placed third in his first Diamond League of the year at the Oslo Bislett Games two weeks ago behind his fiercest rivals—the world-record holder Duplantis and world No. 2 Christopher Nilsen of the United States.

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“There’s no time to relax. I focus on getting better each day and I just have to continue what I’m doing,’’ said Obiena.

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TAGS: EJ Obiena, Paris Olympics, pole vault

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