In the realm of sports where victories are measured by centimeters, Filipino pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena proved yet again that he belongs in the pantheon of pole vault greats.
The pole vault expert secured a bronze medal at the 2023 Allianz Memorial Van Damme meeting of the Wanda Diamond League in Brussels, Belgium, reaffirming his position as one of the world’s top athletes in this discipline.
Obiena’s Impressive Feat
Defying gravity with remarkable finesse, Obiena soared to new heights, clearing a remarkable 5.92 meters on his third brave attempt. This event in Brussels was graced by the ten best vaulters in the world, making Obiena’s bronze medal a testament to his elite status in the pole vaulting arena. His recent success mirrors his double gold victories in Germany and surpasses his golden leap of 5.91 meters in 2022, which famously disrupted the dominating streak of World No. 1 Armand Duplantis of Sweden.
The newly refurbished King Baudouin Stadium bore witness to Obiena’s incredible flight on September 8, a height that not only etched his name deeper in the annals of pole vault history but also presented a promise of greater heights in the near future.
The Rivals: Kendricks and Duplantis
At the prestigious event, two-time world champion American Sam Kendricks secured silver by scaling the same height as Obiena, albeit in a single attempt. Meanwhile, Duplantis reclaimed his throne with amazing increase of 6.02 and 6.10 meters, signaling a return of the king in pole vaulting circles. However, both Obiena and Kendricks presented an intimidating challenge, demonstrating their capabilities with audacious attempts at 6.02 meters.
A Prodigy from Manila
EJ Obiena, the prodigious talent who hails from Tondo, Manila, has been constantly challenging Duplantis, forging a riveting rivalry that sports enthusiasts around the world have kept a keen eye on. This rivalry reached its zenith during the epic face-off at the World Championships held in Budapest last August, where Obiena’s sterling performance earned him a silver medal, placing him alongside Duplantis in the esteemed 6-Meter Club — an elite group graced by only 28 men globally.
Looking Toward the Future
Sharing his thoughts on social media, he noted, “Happy with the consistency but definitely lots of things to work on.” Sports aficionados are eagerly anticipating Obiena’s forthcoming performances at the Diamond League Final scheduled to take place from September 16-17 at the iconic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Later in the month, eyes will turn towards Hangzhou, China, as Obiena aims to dazzle once again at the Asian Games, scheduled for September 30.