MANILA – Filipino pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena continued his strong showing. He captured a silver medal in the Prefontaine Classic on Sunday night (Monday, Manila time) in Eugene, Oregon.
Obiena, the first Filipino athlete to qualify in the Paris Olympics next year, took home the silver medal after he successfully cleared 5.82 meters.
The former University of Santo Tomas standout opened the competition, which served as the finale for the Diamond League, by effortlessly clearing 5.62 meters to join the top three.
After skipping the 5.72 meters, the 6-foot-2 Obiena needed a second jump to clear the 5.82 meter mark, which put him in the position for the silver medal.
The 27-year-old Obiena tried to set a new Asian record but was unsuccessful in his three attempts in the 6.02 meter mark to formally conclude the competition.
World No. 1 pole vaulter Armand Duplantis was the runaway winner in the competition after finishing with 6.23 meters, which is a new world record.
Obiena’s silver medal finish was a huge boost as he heads to Hangzhou, China to represent the country in the men’s pole vault event of the 19th Asian Games.
With his recent feats, Philippine athletics team coach Isidro Del Prado is optimistic that Obiena will end the country’s 30-year medal drought in the Asian Games.
“Ang panalo natin si EJ sa pole vault,” del Prado said of Obiena, who placed seventh during the 2018 Asiad as he was still recuperating from a knee injury then.
The last time the Philippines won an athletics medal in the Asian Games was when Elma Muros finished with a bronze medal in the women’s long jump in the 1994./PN