ARMAND DUPLANTIS soared to break his own world record but Ernest John “EJ” Obiena made sure he’s not far behind and finished with the silver medal at the Prefontaine Classic, the final of the Wanda Diamond League series, at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Obiena targeted 6.02 meters but settled for 5.82 to place second behind Duplantis, whose gold-clinching 6.23m broke his previous world mark of 6.20m he set indoors earlier this year.
The US’s Sam Kendricks hit 5.72m to claim the bronze medal via countback with Australia’s Kurtis Marschall and another American, world No.3 Chris Nilsen. They tried 5.82m thrice but missed.
“I think this is the shortest and fastest final ever in the history of the Diamond League,” Obiena told BusinessMirror via voice message Monday. “I don’t know. I’m thinking I needed to make the first attempt at 6.02m because if I didn’t, I’m going to be crazy running out of gas.”
“Then I missed it, I knew it, I needed to take my second attempt in just two minutes because Mondo made it at first. So, I tried at the same pole, but I didn’t have enough push to do 6.02 at least not today,” he said. “They gave me three minutes, but still too short to recover after two jumps. So what can I do?”
Obiena started at 5.62m and so did Duplantis and Marschall. He missed his first attempt at 5.82m but got the height in his second try.
Duplantis? He was flawless at 5.62, 5.82, 6.02 and finally 6.23m in only one attempt.
Only seven pole vaulters—who Duplantis called his brothers—competed in the final with Belgian Ben Broeders and American KC Lightfoot occupying the bottom at 5.52.
“Less recovery after arriving here in just two days, and everybody went crazy,” Obiena said.
Jim Lafferty, Obiena’s personal adviser, praised Obiena for fighting it out with Duplantis.
“He was panting…he and Mondo alone,” Lafferty said. “In the Diamond League final, it’s the placing that matters and against the seven best vaulters in the world EJ came in second and had quality attempts at 6.02.”
“It will come,” said Lafferty, referring to Obiena surpassing his personal best and Asian record of 6.0m.
Obiena’s physiotherapist Anton Guglietta said the three-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist could have been hit the 6.02m if the six judges gave him more time to recover in between jumps.
“We did well to recover all the necessary energy in just two days and managed the race well,” Guglietta said.