By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Olympian pole vaulter EJ Obiena remained on track in his bid of another podium finish in the World Athletics Championships after qualifying to the finals on Wednesday, Aug. 23, in Budapest, Hungary.
The world No. 3 Obiena needed only two attempts to earn a finals berth, clearing 5.70 meters and 5.75m, respectively, to join 11 others in a battle for the gold medal slated on Saturday, Aug. 26.
Also advancing with identical 5.75m marks are reigning champion and current world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden, world No. 2 Chris Nilsen and Zach McWhorter of the United States, Australian Kurtis Marschall, China’s Jie Yao, France’s Thibaut Collet, Turkey’s Ersu Sasma, Poland’s Piotr Lisek and Robert Sobera, Belgium’s Ben Broeders, and Italy’s Claudio Stecchi.
Aside from Duplantis and Nilsen, notable finalists were Marschall, Stecchi, Lisek and Sasma, who already earned berths to the 2024 Paris Olympics along with Obiena after reaching the qualifying standard in previous meets.
Jie was also another darkhorse, having won the 2018 Asian Games silver medal. He competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics as well as three world championships in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
Obiena seeks to improve his historic bronze-medal feat in last year’s edition in Eugene, Oregon where he cleared 5.94m.
His personal and season best, however, is 6.00m which he set at the Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway last June.