By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena is likely to show his readiness for the coming Hangzhou 19th Asian Games when he competes in the prestigious Wanda Diamond League Final in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday, Sept. 17 (Monday in Manila).
Obiena is riding the crest of an impressive outdoor season, where he made it to the podium in all but one event.
His latest feat came in the Memorial van Damme – one of the legs of the Wanda Diamond League – in Brussels, Belgium where he copped the bronze with a 5.92-meter performance.
The pride of Tondo also boasts of a historic silver medal finish in the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary last month where he registered an imposing 6.00m clearance.
As expected, Obiena will have his hands full in the tournament with a strong field spearheaded by reigning titlist and two-time world champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden.
Duplantis has been dominating the sport for the past years, boasting of 11 gold medals this season alone.
Also expected to give Obiena a tough battle for the top honors are world No. 2 Chris Nilsen, Sam Kendricks and KC Lightfoot of the United States, Kurtis Marschall of Australia, and Ben Broeders of Belgium.
Nilsen and Marschall are coming off from a share of bronze medals in the world championships while Kendricks was a two-time Diamond League final champion. Lightfoot and Broeders, meanwhile, are ranked No. 6 and 8 in the world.
The event will serve as Obiena’s springboard to the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China where he is expected to clinch the gold medal following his golden feat at the Asian Championships in Bangkok, Thailand a few months back.