ERNEST JOHN “EJ” Obiena continued to search for form as he wound up only eighth out of 11 participants after clearing just 5.70 meters in the Beijer Pole Vault Gala in Uppsala, Sweden on Thursday.

The Asian record-holder went for a season-best 5.81m but failed in three attempts.

The Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalists came through with the same clearance as in the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin, Germany less than a week ago.

Olympic champion and world record owner Armand Duplantis of Sweden blew away the competition with a 6.04m with Americans Christopher Neilsen and KC Lightfoot plucking the silver and bronze medals, respectively, with identical 5.92m.

Mr. Obiena will have a chance to make improvements as he plunges back into action in the Orlen Cup tomorrow in Lodz, Poland.

Mr. Obiena, whose best performance was 5.93m he registered in the 2021 Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria, is still out to get back in full strength after going under the knife to repair a torn meniscus last month.

He is also still recovering from a messy controversy he is currently embroiled with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), which accused the former of allegedly falsifying liquidations concerning payments to Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov.

Mr. Obiena has repeatedly denied it. — Joey Villar