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EJ Obiena bags gold in LA Grand Prix; Hoffman lands fifth in hurdles

May 20 ------ EJ Obiena boosted his 2024 Paris Olympics preparations by capturing the gold medal in the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix at the Drake Stadium in California. The world No. 2 pole vaulter dominated the field by clearing 5.80 meters in his fourth tournament appearance this year. 


Norwegian Simen Guttormsen bagged the silver after posting a season-best 5.70m while 2020 Tokyo Olympian KC Lightfoot took home the bronze via countback after clearing a similar height. It was Obiena’s third triumph this year, having ruled the Memorial Josip Gasparac in Croatia with a 5.83m showing and the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin, Germany with 5.93m both in February. He competed in the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Scotland last March, but finished ninth with 5.65m. 


It was a good showing for Obiena in a field of athletes who have already hit the Olympic qualifying stand that included Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Chris Nilsen, who landed fourth via countback after posting 5.70m. American Jacob Wooten and two-time world champion Sam Kendricks came in fifth and sixth with 5.60m. Obiena passed the starting height of 5.30m and cleared 5.45m and 5.60m with ease. He briefly encountered trouble at 5.70m after needing two attempts to clear it, before overcoming 5.80m on his first attempt. 


Meanwhile, Olympic hopeful Lauren Hoffman came in fifth in the women’s 400m hurdles after clocking 55.84 seconds. American Anna Cockrell took home the gold medal with 53.75sec, while Jamaica’s Andrenette Knight (54.69sec) and hometown bet Cassandra Tate (55.02sec) finished silver and bronze, respectively. Hoffman, who holds the national record of 55.72sec pending ratification, seeks to earn a berth to Paris either by bolstering her world rankings or by hitting the qualification standard of 54.85sec. She is currently ranked No. 32 in her event. 




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