By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena beat long-time rival and world No. 1 Armand Duplantis of Sweden for the first time this year.
But in a twist of fate, the Filipino ace settled for silver in the Monaco leg of the Diamond League on Friday, July 21 (Saturday in Manila).
Reason? He was beaten by American Chris Nilsen – the very same person he overtook for the world No. 2 ranking early this week.
Nilsen clinched the gold with a leap of 5.92 meters while Obiena settled for the second best 5.82m.
Obiena did try to hurdle 5.92m and 6.02m but failed in both occasions. He was tied by Australian Kurtis Marschall but still emerged No. 2 after the countback was applied.
Nilsen’s effort earned for himself a slot to the Paris Games next year after surpassing the qualifying height of 5.82m.
Duplantis woke up on the wrong side of the bed, settling for 5.72m that was only good for fourth place.
After successfully clearing 5.72m, the reigning Olympic champion skipped 5.82m and tried 5.92m twice but failed.
He raised the bar at 6.02m for his last attempt was also unsuccessful.
Obiena, meanwhile, bagged his ninth podium finish in the outdoor season since winning the gold medal in record-breaking fashion at the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia last May.
He is also coming off a successful title defense at the Asian Championships in Bangkok, Thailand last week where he reset the tournament record with a 5.91m performance.