Tokyo Olympics-bound Ernest John Obiena almost broke the national record again.
Obiena tried to reach the height of 5.87 meters, which was one millimeter higher than his gold medal-winning effort of 5.86 last Saturday.
Because of this, Obiena settled for the bronze medal in another showdown with world champion Sam Kendricks of the United States and seasoned veteran Piotr Lisek of Poland in the men’s pole vault event of the Copernicus Cup 2021 indoor athletics meet in Torun, Poland.
The 25-year-old Obiena cleared the same height of 5.80 meters with Kendricks and Lisek. Obiena was successful in his third try which put him in third place.
Kendricks, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, collected the gold medal with after clearing the height in one try.
Lisek, podium with finishes in the 2015, 2017 and 2019 World Championships, also cleared 5.8 meters, just like Obiena.
But, since Lisek took the 5.72-meter height in just one go, the Pole earned the silver on the countback.
Kendricks, Obiena and Lisek then tried reaching the height of 5.87 meters, but all of them faltered in their efforts.
“Sobrang tagal ng laro. Naparami siya ng talon. Pagdating sa pinaka-importanteng height, medyo paubos na ang lakas niya,” said Emerson Obiena, after talking to his son EJ on the phone.
It was Obiena’s second podium finish in a week, and in his regular encounters with Kendricks, who claimed his second straight gold in a week.
The 6’2” Obiena will now seek to maintain his form, now that the indoor season is over, that outdoor meets in Europe will begin within the next two months.
“He just about had another record. And frankly his vault at 5.80 was again a 6-meter vault had the bar been set there,” said Obiena’s conditioning coach James Lafferty.
Lafferty added that Obiena is now getting into the groove at the 5.8-meter level.
“He is coming along nicely. 5.80 is becoming regular. With now six months more of training he is in a great position for Tokyo,” said Lafferty.
Last Saturday, Obiena used a new pole when he broke the national record for the second time in a week, clearing a height of 5.86 meters to earn the silver medal during the Orlen Cup 2021 Indoor Athletics meeting.
The 25-year-old Obiena’s performance is regarded as the best by an Asian athlete since 2005 in the trackfest’s 88-year history when action ended at the Atlas Arena in Łódź, Poland.
This was 6 millimeters higher than his height last week when Obiena smashed his own national record in the ISTAF Indoor Athletics Meet in Berlin, Germany, by clearing a height of 5.80-meters.