MANILA, Philippines – Filipino pole-vault star EJ Obiena snared a silver medal in the FBK Games in Hengelo, the Netherlands Sunday night against world-class competition to underscore his ability to deliver the country its first Olympic medal in athletics in almost a century.
The 25-year-old Obiena, who is being supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Summit, cleared 5.80 meters to cop the silver and finish behind eventual gold medalist and world record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden, who vaulted to an astonishing 6.10m.
The Southeast Asian Games gold medalist went for the national outdoor record of 5.81m he himself set in Chiari, Italy two years ago but failed in three attempts.
But the feat was impressive in itself as he accomplished it at the expense of his Tokyo Olympic rivals — 2016 Rio Games gold medal winner Thiago Braz of Brazil, Dutchman Menno Vloon and Belgian Ben Broeders — in this event graded as gold standard.
Vloon took the bronze with a 5.80m while Braz and Broeders were fifth and sixth with identical 5.62m.
It was the second podium finish by the Tondo native after capturing the gold by clearing 5.70m in the Gothenburg Grand Prix in Sweden Wednesday.
It also should help Obiena gain confidence as he aims to become the first Filipino to snatch an Olympic medal in track and field since Miguel White bagged a 400m hurdles bronze in the 1936 Berlin Games.
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