MANILA, Philippines, September 19 ------ EJ Obiena solidified his status as a heavy favorite for an Asian Games gold after bagging silver in the Diamond League Final in Eugene, USA. Obiena cleared 5.82 meters to finish behind reigning Olympic and world champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden in Eugene before he flies to Hangzhou, China for the Asian Games, where he will gun for a breakthrough gold. In a class of his own, Duplantis captured another title as he reset his world record anew, soaring past 6.23m to shatter his previous mark by a centimeter
Obiena arranged a one-on-one duel with Duplantis after Sam Kendricks (USA), Kurtis Marschall (Australia), and Chris Nilsen (USA) failed to hurdle 5.82m, but the Filipino pole vault star eventually bowed out at 6.02m. Duplantis, meanwhile, proved to be in top form, clearing 6.02m to secure the crown and 6.23m to establish a new world record – both in just a single attempt. Kendricks the Rio de Janeiro Olympics bronze medalist edged Marschall and Nilsen for the bronze via countback as they all tallied 5.72m. Belgium’s Ben Broeders and the USA’s KC Lightfoot landed at sixth and seventh place, respectively, in the meet also known as the Prefontaine Classic.
Riding on a four-meet medal streak and securing a podium finish in 15 of the 16 events he participated in for the current outdoor season, Obiena goes into the Asian Games as arguably the Philippines’ strongest gold-medal bet. That stretch includes a silver in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August and a gold in the Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok, Thailand in July.
In the Asian Games that will kick off on September 23, Obiena will be joined by other golden hopefuls in Olympic weightlifting champion Hidilyn Diaz and Asian Games skateboarding titlist Margielyn Didal.
Two champions will serve as the Philippines’ flag bearers in the Asian Games. EJ Obiena and Skateboarder Margielyn Didal tasked with carrying the flag during the opening ceremony of the continental tiff that will run from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou, China.