EJ Obiena sets new Asian Athletics Championships record to defend pole vault crown

RECORD BREAKER. EJ Obiena rewarded the Philippines with its second gold medal in the 25th Asian Athletics Championships after clearing the 5.91-meter mark for a new meet record. (Screengrab Asian Athletics Championships 2023 YouTube)
Ernest John "EJ" Obiena is an unstoppable force in the Asian pole vault scene.
He is a cut above the rest after another historic leap.
Obiena reset his previous best during the 25th Asian Athletics Championships by leaping past the 5.91-meter bar for back-to-back titles at Supachalasai National Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday, July 16.
The pole vaulting ace from Tondo, Manila previously held the Asian meet record of 5.71 meters in the 2019 edition, which he topped.
Ranking third globally, Obiena became the fourth Filipino track athlete to win multiple gold medals for the Philippines in the Asian Championships, joining late sprint queen Lydia de Vega, Isidro del Prado, and Amelita Alanes.
De Vega wore the women's 100m and 200m crowns in 1983 and 1987, del Prado took the men's 400m throne in 1983 and 1985, and Alanes bagged the women's 100m and 4x400m relay in 1973.
Before the Asian tiff, Obiena was the first Asian to breach six meters when he competed in the Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway.
Carrying the momentum he gained in his successful stint in European competitions, Obiena simply decimated everyone.
The third-ranked Filipino pole vaulter aced 5.51 in one attempt, as well as the 5.66m and 5.80m.
At that time, his closest competitors, Saudi Arabia's Hussain Assem Al-Hizam and China's Huang Bokai, bowed out of the gold medal race by failing to clear 5.61m.
Al-Hizam settled for silver with 5.56m, while Huang notched the bronze via countback at the expense of Japan's Tomoya Karasawa, who had an identical 5.51m clearance.
Second time was a charm for the 27-year-old Tokyo 2020 Olympian, missing his first attempt in the 5.91m before shattering the 2019 edition mark he registered.
Already qualified for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics, Obiena tried to push his limits by going as far as 6.02m but exhausted all three tries.
Thanks to Obiena's record-breaking performance, the nationals hiked their medal tally to two goals – the first time in almost four decades as Robyn Brown snagged the women's 400m hurdles on Saturday.
The Philippines last brought home multiple gold medals from the continental festivity was in 1987, courtesy of de Vega's first-place finishes in the women's 100m and 200m races.
Other Filipino athletes fall short
Unlike Obiena and Brown, other Filipino representatives missed the podium over the weekend.
Kristina Knott ended up in fourth place in the women's 200m final. She clocked 23.29 seconds but lost the bronze to China's Li Yuting (23.25), losing her bid for a first-ever Asian Championships medal.
In the men's long jump, reigning Southeast Asian Games champion Janry Ubas finished seventh with 7.98m.
Heptathlete Sarah Dequinan, meanwhile, landed fifth out of the nine-woman field with 5,446 points. On the brighter side, she surpassed her 5,381-point tally in the 2022 Hanoi SEA Games.
On the other hand, the quartet of Frederick Ramirez, Jessel Lumapaz, Michael del Prado, and Maureen Schrijvers tallied a new national record of three minutes and 22.53 seconds but came short of a medal. They eclipsed their 3:23.69 effort in the 32nd SEA Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Last Modified: 2024-Jul-15 04.31 +0800