The weather was fair and there was not much wind on the tracks when world no. 3 Ernest John “EJ” Obiena of the Philippines cleared 5.81 meters and finally upstaged no. 2 Chris Nilsen in winning the Internationales Stabhochsprung-Meeting in Germany on Tuesday (early Wednesday morning, Manila time).
Obiena, who was recently reinstated to the Philippine national team, bested two familiar rivals, World Athletics World Championships silver medalist Nilsen and hometown challenger Oleg Zernikel.
Sweden’s Armand Duplantis is far ahead in the pole vault rankings with 1612 points, while Nilsen is at 1435 points, a more realistic target for Obiena, who has 1408 points.
“EJ’s immediate goal is to pursue in earnest the no. 2 world ranking. Every competition is different in outdoor with differing weather and wind conditions. Sometimes, you go for height, other times simply to win. (But) Importantly, EJ won gold last night,” said Obiena’s adviser and main supporter James Lafferty
The 26-year-old Obiena could have gone up to a higher elevation if conditions were right and with the temperature hovering between 11C and 15C, and with northerly winds going down to 5 kph as the night went on.
But Obiena failed on his attempt to set a new personal and Asian record of 5.95.
Nevertheless, it was Obiena’s fourth gold-medal win this year, to go with three bronzes from 10 outdoor competitions he joined since May.
Obiena holds the Asian and national marks of 5.94m, which he set en route to winning the bronze at last month’s World Championships in Oregon.
The Germany event was the first of seven competitions lined up for Obiena as he continues his mission of breaching the 6-meter height.
The American Nilsen settled for the silver after clearing of 5.71 meters on his second attempt, while Kurtis Marshall of Australia and Bo Kanda Lita Baehre of Germany shared the bronze, also at 5.71 meters, after both made it on their third tries.
“Great start for the second part of the season. We got the (gold medal) and we got the standard for next year’s World Champs in Hungary,” said Obiena in his post on Facebook.
Obiena will be at the Athletissima Lausanne next in Switzerland on Friday.