After taking No. 2, Obiena puts Mondo in crosshairs | Inquirer Sports
SUPPLANTING DUPLANTIS

After taking No. 2, Obiena puts Mondo in crosshairs

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 04:10 AM July 25, 2023

EJ Obiena pole vault

Southeast Asian Games – Athletics – Morodok Techo National Stadium, Phnom Penh, Cambodia – May 8, 2023 Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena reacts during the men’s pole vault REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Armand “Mondo” Duplantis is a machine.

The American-born Swedish pole vaulter holds the sport’s world records in indoor (6.21 meters) and outdoor (6.22 m), marks unchallenged since 2020. The world No. 1 is the reigning Olympic and World indoor and outdoor champion. For most of the past few years, the 23-year-old star has been virtually indestructible. Ernest John Obiena wants to take him down.

“That’s the plan. That’s what we’ve been working on and why I’m doing all of these,’’ said Obiena, who recently dislodged American Chris Nielsen as the No. 2 pole vaulter in the world rankings.

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“I’m not playing [for] second [place]. I’m not doing all these just to be the runner-up. I always go for the win,’’ he added.But intention is different from accomplishment.

And Obiena clearly understands the workload needed against a guy like Duplantis. Obiena owns a victory over the Swedish standout and wants to repeat that victory.

“… I hate losing. I don’t say I hate second or third, I just hate losing. Winning is a different feeling, but the difference between winning and losing is pretty slim in this kind of sport,’’ said the Filipino ace.

Obiena recently secured a silver medal in a Diamond League event in Monaco ruled by Nielsen at 5.92m. Australian Kurtis Marschall claimed the bronze after clearing the same height as Obiena at 5.82 m, but lost on countback.

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Duplantis, in what many consider a rare glitch, missed the podium after a pedestrian 5.72 m.

That result is expected to spur Duplantis in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, where he is the defending champion.

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“That’s for sure. As for me, the Monaco Diamond League is my last tournament before the world championships. Our efforts will now be focused on Budapest,’’ said Obiena, the first Filipino to qualify for next year’s Paris Olympics.

The 27-year-old from Tondo, Manila, pulled off a historic feat at the worlds last year with a bronze finish in the Oregon tourney.

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Will he be able to pull ahead of Duplantis in Budapest or even top Nielsen for another milestone?“Physically, I know what I’m capable of. But more than half of the game is mental,’’ said Obiena. INQ

TAGS: Ernest John Obiena, Sports

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