WORLD No. 3 EJ Obiena showed a lot of hope and optimism to start the 2023 season as he captured a silver medal in the International Jump Meeting Cottbus in Germany yesterday.

Like everybody else, the Filipino World Championship bronze medalist was understandably rusty.

But he nonetheless came through with a silver medal finish following a 5.77-meter clearance, and just ending up behind seasoned American Sam Kendricks, who took the gold following a 5.82m.

Belgian Ben Broeders copped the bronze after he edged countryman Gillian Ladwig via count back after the two registered identical 5.72ms.

Never mind that the top two vaulters in the planet — Swedish titan Armand Duplantis and American Christopher Nilsen — skipped the event.

It was still a respectable start to what the Asian record-holder envisions to be a breakthrough year as he seeks to breach the six-meter plateau for the first time in his life.

And there is inevitability that Mr. Obiena would accomplish the feat as there are several tilts on his huge plate this year including the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships slated Feb. 10 to 12 in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan.

He could also see action in the Phnom Penh Southeast Asian Games this May and the Hangzhou Asian Games in September.

These are just part of Mr. Obiena’s bigger, grander plan — capture a medal in the 2024 Paris Olympics. — Joey Villar