Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines will once again compete with Armand “Mondo” Duplantis and many other top athletes on Friday in the men’s pole vault event of the 2022 World Athletics Championships at the Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
The field will be stacked and loaded with the world’s top competitors in the qualification round, which will select the top eight finishers for the finals on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Obiena, who is the current Asian record-holder, will try to hold his ground against Duplantis.
And if Obiena is able to stand his ground, he could become the first Filipino athlete to win a World Championships medal.
“6th for the year reppin’ the Philippines. Keep jumping, keep improving. With God’s grace and determination, we’ll soon get to reach our goal,” said Obiena in his messages on social media.
Obiena brings with him the confidence and experience he got a memorable showing in the past two years that had him setting his own Asian mark of 5.93 meters.
While Obiena seeks to improve on his personal best, the 22-year-old Duplantis, who is the Olympic and world indoor champion, will seek to make another stirring performance.
After winning the World Indoor crown earlier this year, Duplantis managed to set a world record of 6.20 meter.
Also making things challenging for Obiena is the presence world No. 2 Christopher Nilsen of the United States and his friend and training partner, 2016 Olympics bronze medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil.
Americans KC Lightfoot and Sam Kendricks, who are fourth and fifth in the world rankings, are also present.
Obiena, the no. 6 ranked pole vaulter in the world, left behind a harrowing ordeal after arriving in Los Angeles from Italy last July 7.
The Filipino vaulter was reportedly held by the US Department of Homeland Security for more than 12 hours on suspicion of escaping felony charges in the Philippines.
But Obiena was eventually released after he was cleared of accusations from the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association that he embezzled government funds and falsified public documents. This was related to issues concerning the liquidation the financial assistance from the Philippine Sports Commission.