EJ unruffled even after fourth place warmup finish

EJ Obiena diamond league pole vault

The Philippines’ EJ Obiena competes in the Men’s Pole Vault event of the Stockholm Diamond League athletics meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 2, 2024. AFP

EJ Obiena remains completely locked in regardless of the outcome of his last evaluation meet prior to the Paris Olympics.

“EJ is doing well and is very focused, despite missing out on a medal in the Diamond League in Paris,’’ said Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino following a brief internet call with the world No. 2 in men’s pole vault.

Obiena, the reigning silver medalist in the world championships, got to assess his tough Olympic competition one last time over the weekend at the Meeting de Paris, a Diamond League leg, where he wound up joint fourth.

Mondo Duplantis, the current world record holder at 6.24 meters, captured his 10th gold medal during the meet in as many events this year where the Swede regularly hurdled 6 m.

“I know he’s (Duplantis) training. You don’t become the greatest of all time if you’re lax,’’ said Obiena. “He knows what he needs to do.’’

Sam Kendricks of the United States secured the silver following a season-best 5.95 m while Thibaut Collet of host France pocketed the bronze in 5.85 m.

Obiena managed to soar above 5.75 m, ending up tied for fourth with Emmanouil Karalis of Greece.

Also expected to figure well in the Aug. 3 qualification phase all the way to the medal jump on Aug. 5 at Stade de France are Chris Nilsen of the United States (ranked third in the world) and fifth-ranked Kurtis Marschall of Australia.

Aside from back-to-back world championship trophies, Duplantis is a top favorite to duplicate his golden jump in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

“I’ll just try to make sure that my chances are as high as possible,’’ said Obiena, one of the nation’s medal hopes in the global sports spectacle.

To give EJ more support, Tolentino has assured that Obiena’s parents—former national team pole vaulter Emerson and Jeanette—will personally witness their son in action in the French capital.

Both parents have been managing Obiena’s logistical requirements with help from the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and the Philippine Sports Commission to ensure the focus of their son is undivided.

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Obiena and his team led by Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov will remain in France at Normandy Sports Centre, a two-hour drive from Paris, before checking in at the Olympic Village.