EJ Obiena bowed out of medal contention after finishing on a share of 11th place in the final of the men’s pole vault competition at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, Tuesday.
The 2019 Southeast Asian Games champion tried for his extra attempt count but instead sent the bar with him at 5.80, finishing with 5.70 meters.
France’s Renaud Lavillenie skipped 5.50 as he was concerned about his right heel, but was able to clear 5.70 meters on his first attempt.
On his part, Obiena hesitated in mid-air on his first attempt on 5.70, leading to a foul. However, the 23-year-old finally went full clutch on his third and final attempt to eventually clear the said height.
The following height at 5.80 proved to be difficult as well and eventually, Obiena was not able to clear it after three tries.
After what looked like a foul attempt on his third try, Obiena approached the officials’ table to protest the apparent disparity between the display clock and the official clock located near their table.
Realizing the mistake, officials gave Obiena another opportunity, but the Philippines’ top pole vaulter, his momentum derailed by the error, again failed to leap over the clearance.
“You could see the desire was there to win, but in accordance with the rules, he knew his rules and rights and set things right,” said Popoy Juico, president of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.
“The best is yet to come for EJ and for the Philippine Athletics. Mabuhay si EJ, mabuhay ang Pilipinas!”
Lavillenie, on the other hand, eventually ended at 5.70 as well
The last edition’s champion and the Filipino’s training partner Thiago Braz settled for the bronze after he could not clear 5.92 meters on his three attempts, leaving world number 1 Armand Duplantis and USA’s Christopher Nilsen to battle for the gold.
Both athletes eventually cleared 5.97 meters on their first attempt, forcing the officials to raise the bar to 6.02, which only Duplantis cleared on one go putting him in the position to take gold for Sweden. Eventually, Nilsen failed to clear the height, handing over the Olympic title to the world record holder.
Already with the gold in hand, Duplantis decided to breach his own world mark. However, after his three tries, he could not get past the bar. Nonetheless, his world record of 6.18 still stands as the competition concluded after more than three hours.