By Adrian Stewart Co
Filipino pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena captured a gold medal and shattered a two-decade old Asian feat at the 2021 Golden Roof Challenge on Sunday in Innsbruck, Austria.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics campaigner set a new meet record of 5.93 meters, which eclipsed the Asian mark of 5.92 meters achieved by Kazakhstan’s Igor Potapovich in 1998.
Apart from resetting the Asian record, the former University of Santo Tomas standout also shattered his personal best and Philippine pole vault record of 5.91, which Obiena did in Paris Diamond League last month.
United States’ Matt Ludwig took home the silver medal, while Turkey’s Ersu Sasma settled with bronze medal finish. Both pole vaulters submitted an identical 5.60 meter but it was the American who did it in less attempts.
With the gold medal already in the bag, Obiena went for the 5.93 meter leap to reset his personal best and Asian record. He faltered in his two tries before completing the feat on his third and final try.
“I wanted this (2021 Golden Roof Challenge championship) so bad. I couldn’t have done it without all of you guys,” an emotional Obiena uttered to the crowd.
Other pole vaulters who competed in the event were Authorized Neutral Athletes’ Timur Morgunov, Netherlands’ Menno Vloon, and Austria’s Riccard Klotz.
Days before the 6-foot-2 Obiena’s feat in Austria, he placed fourth in the 2021 Diamond League at the Stadion Letzigrund in Zurich, Switzerland with a 5.83 meter leap.
Obiena also attempted to shatter the Asian record in that event with 5.93 meter but faltered on three attempts. He pocketed $4,000 for his fourth place finish.
Armand Duplantis, as expected, captured the gold medal after a new meet record of 6.06 meters in the final. The Tokyo Games gold medal winner once more flirted with a new world record, but faltered his three attempts./ASC, WDJ