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World No. 3 Obiena vaults to bronze medal in Poland

FILIPINO ace pole vaulter EJ Obiena soared to the bronze medal in the 5th Irena Szewinska Memorial 2023 with a vault of 5.72 meters Tuesday at the Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The world No. 3 pole vaulter posted his season’s best on his first try as he shared third spot with 2016 Rio Games bronze medalist Sam Kendricks (also with 5.72m) in the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold series event.

American Christopher Nilsen, silver medalist in the Tokyo Olympiad, reigned supreme with 5.92m as Polish Piotr Lisek took runner-up honors with 5.82m.

It was Mr. Obiena’s first competition since securing a three-peat and a record-breaking 5.65m in the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia last month.

The pride of the Philippines warmed up with a 5.62-meter vault then raised the bar by 10 centimeters, clearing both heights on one attempt.

He next aimed for 5.82m — the Qualifying Standard for the Paris Games — but failed to clear thrice.

Mr. Obiena has to hit this mark during the qualifying period beginning July 1 up to June 30 next year to make the Olympics again.

The 27-year-old Pinoy star, whose personal best stood at 5.94m set in his history-making bronze-winning performance in the 2022 World Championships, continues building up for the Olympics when he vies in the Bergen Jump Challenge and Oslo Bislett Games in Norway on June 10 and 15, respectively. — Olmin Leyba

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