Politics

EJ Obiena targets Paris Games medal and six-meter club

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WORLD Athletics Championship bronze medalist EJ Obiena — REUTERS

WORLD Athletics Championships pole-vault bronze medalist EJ Obiena isn’t done rewriting history.

A day after his glorious Eugene, Oregon feat where he delivered the Philippines its first podium finish in the Worlds, Mr. Obiena said he is eyeing to accomplish two more things what only a rare few had done — snare an Olympic medal and join the elite 6-meter club.

“There are a lot of things I want to do in the sport. I’m still happy to win the bronze medal but missing six meters is like yeah, there’s something I need to do,” said Mr. Obiena during yesterday’s zoom meeting he hosted.

“There’s only 24 people who reached the six-meter mark, I want to be the 25th,” he added.

Mr. Obiena had his chances in Eugene though as he went for 6m but missed in three attempts.

But his 5.94m was enough to deliver the country its first medal in the history of the biennial event while shattering the old Asian mark of 5.93m he himself set in the Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria last year.

The Southeast Asian Games gold medalist will have his opportunities to breach the 6m-mark as he is scheduled to see action in the Silesia leg of the Diamond League set on Aug. 6 in Poland and the Gyulai Istvan Memorial-Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix on Aug. 8 in Hungary.

Another goal that would cement Mr. Obiena’s status as one of the biggest, brightest stars of the sport is if he could win medal in the Olympics, a first by a Filipino since Miguel White copped a 400m hurdles bronze in the 1936 Berlin Games.

To achieve this, Mr. Obiena said he must level up with rivals Armand Duplantis, who set a new world record of 6.21 in Eugene, and American Christopher Nilsen, who snatched the silver with a 5.94m.

“That’s the plan, that’s definitely what I want to achieve. Mondo (Duplantis) is definitely a force to be respected, to be reckoned with and Chris (Nilsen) is a competitor and everybody else in the field so if it’s going to be a medal, that I can’t say. Hopefully it will be a better case in Paris,” he said. — Joey Villar