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Obiena on track to hit Olympic qualifying norm

If EJ Obiena’s bronze medal-clinching vault in the 62nd Ostrava Golden Spike in the Czech Republic can be used to gauge his Paris Olympics form, then the Filipino World Championship bronze medalist is just about right on track.

With the Olympic qualifying cycle inching closer, Mr. Obiena achieved what he initially came for and effortlessly breached the 5.82-meter Paris Games standard with plenty to spare as he cleared 5.90m.

It didn’t qualify the World No. 3 and Asian record-holder just yet as the qualifying process officially starts when the calendar hits July 1.

But it was an indication that Mr. Obiena, barring any untoward incident, will inevitably do so and qualify for a second trip to the greatest sports show on Earth after his Tokyo Games appearance.

Forget about the Southeast Asian Games king falling and succumbing to Armand Duplantis, the world record holder and Olympic champion who won the Ostrava by a mile with a magnificent 6.12m, again.

And never mind Mr. Obiena missing out on a silver after lower-ranked Australian Kurtis Marschall snatched it after vaulting an identical 5.90m right on the latter’s first attempt.

What mattered was the intent that anytime Mr. Obiena wills it, he can handle 5.82m and get the job done.

The bronze was just icing on the cake.

And Mr. Obiena, whose best is a six-meter that only 28 vaulters have accomplished, should get it done as he goes directly for that precious Olympic berth in one of the two meets he has lined up for himself — the Wanda Diamond League’s Bauhaus-Galan set July 2 in Stockholm and the Meeting International de Sotteville on July 7 in France. — Joey Villar

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