By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
EJ Obiena showed why he’s one of the fancied bets in the Tokyo Games by finishing runner-up to world record holder Armand Duplantis in the prestigious FBK Games in Hengelo, Netherlands late Sunday.
Obiena, who is in the crucial stretch of his Tokyo Olympics preparations, cleared the bar at 5.80 meters while Duplantis soared over the 6.10m barrier to rule the the tournament considered as a gold standard in the World Athletics Continental Tour.
The 25-year-old Tondo native attempted to match his national record of 5.86m, but failed.
Still, his performance improved his season best after registering 5.70m in gold-medal feat at the Gothenburg Grand Prix in Sweden last Wednesday.
This was Obiena’s second outdoor tournament as he gears up for the Olympics scheduled July 23 to Aug. 8.
Meanwhile, Duplantis became the first pole vaulter to clear 6 meters in this Olympic year. The 21-year-old Swedish superstar tried to surpass his world outdoor record of 6.15m by attempting 6.19m, but failed.
Home crowd bet Menno Vloom, who will also see action in the Tokyo Games, posted 5.80m but took home the bronze via countback.
Another Dutch in Rutger Koppelaar finished fourth with 5.62m while reigning Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil came in fifth with 5.62m.
Rounding up the finishers were Olympic-bound Ben Broeders of Belgium with a season-best 5.62m, American Cole Walsh (5.50m) and Sweden’s Pal Haugen Lillefosse (5.30m).