By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
Olympic-bound pole-vaulter EJ Obiena got further momentum in the lead-up to the Summer Games after winning the gold medal in the Folksam Grand Prix in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Thursday (Manila time).
Mr. Obiena, 25, the number 10-ranked pole vaulter in the world, cleared 5.70 meters in his first attempt to win the men’s event.
The clearance bested that of world No. 6 and Rio Olympics champion Thiago Braz of Brazil (5.65m) and Pal Haugen Lillefosse of Norway (5.6m).
The Filipino gold medal winner tried to clear 5.80 meters after but failed thrice.
Messrs. Braz and Lillefosse, meanwhile, attempted to hurdle 5.75 and 5.70 meters, respectively, but also fell short.
The win provided a boost to Mr. Obiena’s push with the Tokyo Olympics less than 60 days away.
Mr. Obiena was the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the rescheduled Olympic Games, earning a spot in a tournament in Chiara, Italy, in September 2019.
Since then, eight other athletes have qualified, namely, gymnast Caloy Yulo, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, rower Cris Nievarez and taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa.
The Olympic Games happens from July 23 to Aug. 8.