By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
EJ Obiena produced another historic performance after claiming the pole vault silver medal in the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Sunday, Aug. 27 (Manila time).
Obiena, who has already earned an Olympic berth in Paris next year, matched his own Asian record by clearing 6.00 meters to finish second behind world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden.
Duplantis retained his world title after clearing 6.10m.
The reigning Olympic champion attempted to eclipse his own world record of 6.22m but was unsuccessful.
Australian Kurtis Marschall and 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Chris Nilsen shared the bronze with identical 5.95m.
Obiena’s feat surpassed his previous historic performance last year in Eugene, Oregon where he claimed bronze behind Duplantis and Nilsen.
It also bolstered his preparations for the Paris Olympics where he aims for a podium finish.
Starting at the 5.55m, only five vaulters went on to clear 5.85m: Duplantis, Obiena, Marschall, Nilsen and France’s Thibaut Collet.
Obiena, Nilsen and Collet went on to clear 5.90m while Duplantis opted not to compete at that height. Marschall failed on his first try, but skipped successfully straight to a personal best of 5.95m.
Collet copied the Australian’s strategy as the bar was raised to the challenging 6.00m mark.
Duplantis sailed over the height easily, as did Obiena on his second attempt. The remaining vaulters, however, struggled, with Collet getting booted out first, followed by Marschall and Nilsen.
Meanwhile, Noah Lyles and Sha’Carri Richardson, the two faces of the World Athletics Championships, won their third and second golds respectively by anchoring the United States to 4x100m relay triumphs.
Kenyan Kipyegon became the first woman to achieve the 1500 and 5,000m double, when she won the latter.
It was a night of firsts for Canada, who had earlier in the championships swept both the men’s and women’s hammer titles.
Marco Arop and Pierce LePage became the first Canadians to win the men’s 800m title and decathlon respectively.
Olympic champion Damian Warner gilded the lily for Canada in the decathlon, taking silver.
Yet another medal came Canada’s way with Sarah Mitton finishing second in the women’s shot put.
Mitton lost out to USA’s Chase Ealey, who, like Duplantis, retained her title.
Lyles and Richardson, though, stole the show.
Lyles held up three fingers as he raced across the line, a big grin spread across his face as he added relay gold to his 100/200m double.
In achieving the double he became the fifth man to do so and with the treble the first since Usain Bolt in 2015 to sweep the lot.
Bolt, however, did it three times.
Kipyegon underlined her status as one of the all-time greats of distance running, the 29-year-old once again in these championships outclassing The Netherlands’ 5000m Olympic champion Sifan Hassan. (With a report from AFP)