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EJ eyes new mark vs world’s best at Rome tourney


By Kristel Satumbaga





EJ Obiena

EJ Obiena

EJ Obiena hopes to produce his best performance when he goes up against the cream of the crop in the IAAF Rome Diamond League 2020 on Thursday in Italy.

The Tokyo Olympics-bound pole vaulter seeks his sixth podium finish since last month, aiming to eclipse his season-beast of 5.74 meters he posted for his first gold at the 59th Ostrava Golden Spike tournament in Czech Republic last week.

Obiena will be up against a world-class field headed by reigning world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden, former world record holder and 2012 London Olympics gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie of France, and former world champion Raphael Holzdeppe of Germany.

Also competing are former European U23 champion Ben Broeders of Belgium, Great Britain’s Harry Coppell, and Italy’s Claudio Michel Stecchi.

This would be Obiena’s second Diamond League event after finishing bronze in the Monaco leg last month behind Duplantis and Broeders.

He registered 5.70m in that tournament.

Though ranked No. 16 in the world, Obiena was not invited in earlier four Diamond League legs in Stockholm, Lausanne, Brussels and Paris as organizers prioritized European competitors who are also gearing up for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Obiena is using his golden feat in Czech Republic and his bronze-medal finish at the Poznan Athletics Grand Prix in Poland four days ago as a springboard in his bid to also surpass his personal best of 5.81m.

His earlier podium finishes were at the 13th Triveneto Meet in Italy where he finished silver (5.45m), at the elite Diamond League in Monaco where he pocketed bronze (5.70m), and at a virtual meet where he placed second (5.60m).