EJ Obiena falls short of medal finish in Olympic pole vault final

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 3) – Filipino pole vault sensation EJ Obiena made a respectable outing in his Olympic debut despite missing a podium finish, Tuesday at the Japan National Stadium.

Obiena finished at joint 11th place with German pole vaulter Bo Kanda Lita Baehre, after they both failed to clear the 5.80-meter mark in three tries.

Sweden's Armand Duplantis took home the gold after hurdling the 6.02-meter clearance while United States' Christopher Nielsen bagged the silver with 5.97.

Thiago Braz of Brazil - the 2016 Rio Olympics champion - settled for a bronze this time with 5.87.

The 25-year-old Obiena opened the night breezing through the 5.50-meter clearance in one attempt, but had a hard time hurdling the 5.70 meters.

Obiena missed his first try at 5.70 and almost cleared it in his second attempt, with his knee touching the bar. He clinched the make-or-break third attempt with ease.

The 5.80-meter mark, which Obiena cleared in some of his pre-Olympic tournaments, was a hard bar to pass for the Manila-born pole vaulter.

He fouled in his first attempt at 5.80, but nearly cleared the mark in his second try, if not for his chest making contact with the bar.

In his third attempt, Obiena was ready to take flight but he noticed the uprights were moving. He protested to game officials on why the game clock was running while he was returning to the starting point, which gave him below 10 seconds to make his leap again.

Game officials granted Obiena's request to repeat his third attempt at 5.80, but he failed to clear the mark in his last chance.

Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Popoy Juico expressed pride over what Obiena achieved in the Tokyo Olympics.

"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. The best is yet to come from EJ," Juico said.

Obiena is the first Filipino to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. During his pre-Olympic tournaments, he brought a couple of medals for the country, which made him one of the favorites to win in Tokyo.

Obiena stayed in Italy for a couple of years to improve his talent under esteemed Ukrainian mentor Vitaly Petrov. Braz is also Obiena's training partner under Petrov.