Ernest John “EJ” Obiena is always at his best whenever the reigning Olympic and world champion in pole vault, Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, is around.
The 27-year-old Obiena soared to 5.91 meters to settle for the bronze medal in the 2023 Mondo Classic Uppsala, Sweden on Thursday in his first encounter with Duplantis since their last meeting in September, 2022.
Obiena may have failed to win it all, but he nevertheless matched the Philippine national indoor record of 5.91 meters, he accomplished last year at the Perche Elite Tour in Rouen France.
Duplantis went on to clear 6.1 meters for the gold medal before a big home crowd.
Later, Duplantis tried to go for an indoor world record of 6.22m, but failed in trying to clear the height in three attempts.
Duplantis was 12 cms short of the record he made last season at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, with a 6.20m.
The 6.10-m jump of Duplantis is the best season-opening jump for any pole vaulter.
American KC Lightfoot needed three attempts to clear both 5.52m and 5.82, before settling for the silver after matching Obiena’s 5.91-meter effort in just two tries.
The last time Obiena competed against Duplantis, the Filipino cleared 5.91 meters to win the outdoor men’s pole vault gold medal in the Brussels leg of the Diamond League last September.
That was when Duplantis committed an error at 5.91 and settled for a silver with his 5.81 meter performance.
The last time, Duplantis, Lightfoot and Obiena fought for medals together was in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics back in 2021, when the Filipino placed 11th, the American landed fourth and the Swede claimed the gold.
It was Obiena’s fourth medal for the season.
Obiena now has two golds this year after jumping 5.82 meters for the top honors in the Perche En Or indoor meet in Roubaix, France on Sunday.
Two weeks ago, Obiena ruled the 5-6 National Indoor Meeting in Padova, Italy, where he won the gold medal with his jump of 5.56 meters.
Obiena settled for the silver at 5.77 meters when he competed against former world no. 1, and currently unranked Sam Kendricks of the United States in the Internationales Springer-Meeting in Cottbus, Germany.