By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
It’s going to be a tough mission but pole vaulter EJ Obiena remains fully motivated to go for a historic podium finish when he competes in the World Athletics Championships 2022 Friday (Saturday in Manila) in Eugene, Oregon.
The 26-year-old Asian record holder is bracketed in Group B of the qualifications where he will be pitted against familiar faces such as fellow Tokyo Olympians Meno Vloon of the Netherlands, France’s Valentin Lavillenie, China’s Huang Bokai, Germany’s Oleg Zernikel, Turkey’s Ersu Sasma and Australia’s Kurtis Marschall, to name a few.
World No. 1 Armand Duplantis of Sweden, who also holds the world record of 6.20 meters, leads Group A that includes Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Christopher Nilsen of the United States and bronze winner Thiago Braz of Brazil, Poland’s Piotr Lisek, Frances’ Renaud Lavillenie, Great Britain’s Harry Coppell, and Germany’s Bo Kanda Lita Baehre, to name a few.
There are 32 competitors vying for the final competition slated on the last day on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
An automatic qualifying mark of 5.80 meters or at least the best 12 will qualify to the final.
No Filipino has ever won a medal in the prestigious meet and Obiena aims to end that drought.
Obiena, who is ranked sixth in the world, currently holds a season-best of 5.92m he performed at the Taby Stavhoppsgala in Sweden late June. His personal best is 5.93m – also an Asian and national record – in a tournament in Innsbruck, Austria last year.