EJ Obiena breaks Asian Games pole vault record, seals PH's 1st gold

EJ Obiena launches for an attempt. PSC-POC Pool
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--As highly anticipated, the Philippines' first gold in this year's Asian Games came from Asia's current pole vault king.

EJ Obiena put an end to the Philippine team's elusive hunt for gold in Hangzhou, China after ruling the men's pole vault event on Saturday night.

Obiena did it in style, setting the new Asian Games record twice in the same night.

Only needing to eclipse the 5.7-meter record set by Seito Yamamoto in 2018 in Jakarta, Obiena, who skipped 5.65 after opening his campaign with a one-attempt clearance at 5.55, broke the record by clearing 5.75 in his second attempt.

Already securing the gold as his fellow Vitaly Petrov students, China's Huang Bokai and Saudi Arabia's Hussain Al-Hizam, could only clear 5.65 meters, Obiena reset his Asian Games record a few minutes later after clearing 5.9 meters in just one try.

Obiena, the first Asian pole vaulter to complete a six-meter leap, then set his sights on resetting the continental record that he set last June in Norway, but he failed to complete a leap at 6.02 meters.

Still, Obiena in the process ended a 37-year drought for an Asian Games gold in athletics since the late Lydia De Vega-Mercado ruled the 1986 Asian Games women's 100-meter race.

Huang got the silver over Al-Hizam, who settled for the bronze, through the countback tiebreaker.

Yamamoto, the erstwhile champ, did not participate in this year's event.

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