Obiena back with a bang

EJ Obiena celebrated his return to the national team with a bang as he won the gold medal in the 26th Stabhochsprung-Meeting in Jockgrim, Germany early Wednesday (Manila time).

The 26-year-old Olympian needed only one attempt to clear 5.81 meters and grab the gold medal in his first tournament since returning to the national squad.

It wasn’t just a vindication for Obiena, who was booted out of the national squad after a falling off with the leadership of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.

He also bagged a spot in the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Hungary, giving him a chance to win his first gold medal in the world’s biggest tournament outside the Summer Olympics.

World No. 2 and Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Christopher Nilsen of the United States finished second with 5.71 meters while Kurtis Marshall of Australia and Bo Kanda Lita Beare of England tied for the third spot with 5.71 meters in the 11-man field that was missing the presence of world record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden and other contenders like Renaud Lavillenie of France and Thiago Braz of Brazil.

American Olen Tray Oates cleared 5.61 meters to settle for fifth place while Sondre Guttormsen of Norway registered 5.41 meters to emerge seventh.

Obiena expressed elation over the victory that gave him a return flight to the World Championships, where he essayed history after clinching the bronze medal behind Duplantis and Nilsen at the Haywire Field in Eugene, Oregon last month.

“Great start for the second part of the season,” Obiena said in a social media post.

“We got the gold and then got the standard for next year’s World Champs in Hungary. Thank you Jockgrim for your loud applause and love.”

Interestingly, the Stabhochsprung-Meeting was also Obiena’s first European tourney in 2016 in which he cleared 5.30 meters.

“Fun fact: Stanbhocksprungmeeting was one of my first European meets back in 2016. I jumped in the B-meet at 5.30 and was partnered with Allison Stokke.”

Obiena is set to compete at the Athletissima on 26 August at 2 a.m. (Manila time) in Lausanne, Switzerland, the second of his grueling seven-tourney swing.

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