EJ Obiena builds Paris momentum with Los Angeles triumph

EJ Obiena builds Paris momentum with Los Angeles triumph

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 05:00 AM May 21, 2024

Obiena builds Paris momentum with Los Angeles triumph

If EJ Obiena can cover 9 inches between now and July, he just might have a shot at Olympic glory. —REUTERS

EJ Obiena, one of the nation’s brightest hopes for a medal in the Paris Olympics, opened his 2024 Olympic season with a blast, launched by a victory at the prestigious Los Angeles Grand Prix.

The Filipino pole vault hero seized the gold medal from fellow Tokyo Olympians Chris Nilsen and KC Lightfoot and two-time world champion Sam Kendricks on their turf, but Obiena was more pleased with his consistent performance.

“5.80 (meters) to get things rolling and a bonus win,’’ Obiena posted on his Facebook after clearing the height in the tournament for a big confidence boost in his buildup to the quadrennial Summer Games come July.


READ: The difference between EJ Obiena and Mondo Duplantis

Lightfoot hurdled 5.70 m to share second spot with Norway’s Simem Guttormsen and Nilsen, the reigning Olympic silver medalist in 2020 Tokyo, went over the same elevation but had to settle for the bronze.

“Sometimes, [there are] conditions you really kind of just have to throw out of the window and just find a way to win. So that’s what I did,’’ said Obiena, the world’s No. 2 vaulter behind Olympic champion and world record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden.

45-day camp

Obiena, with coach Vitaly Petrov in tow, came from a camp backed by the Philippine Sports Commission at the Chula Elite Training Center in Chula Vista, California, that lasted 45 days.


After soaring to his winning jump, the flag-waving Filipinos that came in droves at the Drake Stadium inside the UCLA campus erupted in unison, giving Obiena an exceptional high in kicking off his Olympic-medal bid.

READ: EJ Obiena gets Paris Olympics boost with LA Grand Prix gold


“It was a blast with all the Filipinos who came out waving flags and screamed their hearts out. Some were even wearing the EjxPUMAshirts!’’ said Obiena.

The Philippine Olympic Committee has arranged a training camp for Obiena in France a month prior to the Olympics before he checks in at the Olympic village starting June 21.

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The Asian champion and continental record-holder of 6 m faces the best vaulters in the world in the qualification of their event on Aug. 3 at Stade de France.Two days later, Obiena is expected to figure in the finals where the 2023 world championship silver medalist is raring to climb the podium this time after landing 11th in Tokyo.


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