EJ Obiena, unfazed by Duplantis, eyes pole vault glory | Inquirer Sports

EJ Obiena, unfazed by Duplantis, eyes pole vault glory

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 08:03 PM August 22, 2023

EJ Obiena pole vault

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

MANILA, Philippines-Whenever EJ Obiena sees the otherworldly Armand Duplantis in the field, his instant reaction isn’t one of intimidation.

“When he’s (Duplantis) there, my tendency is to jump high. Iron sharpens iron. When he jumps well, I want to jump well. That’s the nature of a competitive athlete,” said Obiena, who will face Duplantis and a bevy of other top-tiered pole vaulters in the 2023 World Athletics Championships starting on Wednesday in Budapest, Hungary.


The homegrown Filipino Asian champion won a historic bronze medal in last year’s world championship in the United States behind Duplantis and American silver medalist Chris Nilsen.


He’s not settling for a mere repeat this time.

Obiena hopes to put himself higher up the podium in the men’s pole vault finals on Saturday after Wednesday’s elimination round pares down the 35-man field from 23 countries.

Duplantis remains the heavy favorite to keep the gold medal, having ruled the major tournaments, including the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

EJ Obiena philippines pole vault

FILE – EJ Obiena of Philippines competes in men’s pole vault during Bauhaus-galan, part of the Diamond League series, on July 2, 2023 in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Karlsson / BILDBYRÅN /

The Swede is likewise a proud owner of the world record of 6.22 meters and can consistently jump six meters with ease.

“Duplantis pushed the quality of the pole vault to a high level. It’s very good for the sport, but bad for the other vaulters because it’s hard,” said Obiena.

But that won’t stop the Filipino from trying to duplicate an earlier victory over the star vaulter.


“I do enjoy competing with Mondo (Duplantis). We’re pretty good friends. I’m not mesmerized by him, but I do say like `damn, he makes it look so easy’,” added the current Asian record holder of six meters.

Duplantis and the world No. 2 Nilsen aren’t the only ones in Obiena’s way. Sam Kendricks and KC Lightfoot of the United States and Australian Kurtis Marschall are also equally determined to be on the podium.

With all the top pole vaulters coming out to play, the event could very well be a preview of next year’s Paris Olympics.

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“Being great takes a lot, and being with greats you will see what it takes. I feel I’m doing all the things I can, I’m sacrificing, I’m doing all things necessary for me to be one of the best,” said Obiena, ranked No. 3 in the world. INQ


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