By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
There’s no stopping EJ Obiena.
Putting his financial concern behind, the world No. 3 pole vaulter captured his third gold medal of the year, bagging the 2023 Orlen Copernicus Cup trophy in Torun, Poland Wednesday, Feb. 8 (Thursday in Manila).
Obiena cleared 5.87 meters on his second attempt to rule the 11-player field composed mostly of his fellow 2020 Tokyo Olympians.
It was his third title in five tournament appearances in the indoor season, never missing a podium finish.
The gold medal win came a day after he expressed his displeasure about the unpaid salaries of his team members reportedly due to “red tape.”
“Despite all the issues of the past supposedly being resolved, my team has not been paid now in over a year. Payments are caught up in red tape. Unfortunately, some of my team are now threatening to leave Team Obiena. I cannot blame them,” Obiena said on his Instagram post.
His previous victories include the Orlen Cup in Lodz, Poland over the weekend and the Perche En Or in Roubaix, France late January.
“Making it through one day at a time. Now time to recover and try to get the much needed rest,” Obiena posted on social media after the victory.
Rutger Koppelaar of the Netherlands came in second and Belgium’s Ben Broeders finished third via countback after the two Olympians registered identical 5.82m marks with Dutch Menno Vloon.
Obiena attempted to eclipse his own national indoor record of 5.91m which he matched in France last month by trying 5.92m once and 5.95m.
He was unsuccessful in both occasions.
Meanwhile, other finishers include Italy’s Claudio Michel Stecchi, Poland’s Piotr Lisek with 5.72m, Norway’s Pal Haugen Lillefosse with 5.62m, Poland’s Pawel Wojciechowski and Brazil’s Thiago Braz with 5.52m and Poland’s Robert Sobera with 5.32m.
Greece’s Emmanouil Karalis failed to register a mark.