FILIPINO World Championship bronze medalist EJ Obiena collected his first victory of the year after he reigned supreme in the Perche En Or meet in Roubaix, France yesterday.
The World No. 3 pole-vaulter had a 5.82-meter clearance that proved enough to turn back all challengers and claim the gold for his first triumph of what should be a long and arduous season.
The Asian record-holder went for a season-best 5.90m but he fizzled out on his attempts.
The feat came just a few days after he captured the silver in the International Jump Meeting in Cottbus, Germany where he vaulted to 5.77m.
Interestingly, Mr. Obiena matched the qualifying standard of 5.82m for next year’s Paris Olympics set by World Athletics late last year.
But the Southeast Asian Games gold winner, however, will not qualify just yet as all events, with the exception of the 10,000m, relays and race walks, will only start its qualification process on July 1.
“The qualification process will start July 1,” said Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association secretary-general Edward Kho yesterday told The STAR.
Chinese Yao Jie took the silver following a personal-high 5.75m.
Frenchman Ethan Cormont snared the bronze via count back after he and countrymen Robin Emig and Mathieu Collet posted identical 5.65m clearances.
Mr. Yao, a 2018 Jakarta Asian Games silver winner, emerged from this meet as a potential threat to Mr. Obiena’s golden bid in the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships set Feb. 10 to 12 in Astana, Kazakhstan and the Asiad slated Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 in Hangzhou, China. — Joey Villar