ASIAN pole vault champion EJ Obiena, the first Filipino to qualify in the pandemic-stalled Tokyo Olympics, won the silver medal in the 13th Triveneto International Meet last Saturday at the Stadio Giuseppe Grezar in Trieste, Italy.
Obiena tallied 5.45 meters to finish behind his training partner, Brazilian Thiago Braz, the current Olympic record holder who won the gold medal with 5.50 meters.
Italian Max Mandusic reached the podium with 5.35 meters.
Obiena recorded 5.45, matching his golden feat in last year's 30th Southeast Asian Games, right on his second try. The 24-year old standout attempted to clear 5.55 and 5.60, but he failed.
The competition was held with strict health protocols due to the global COVID-19 pandemic which affected the entire international athletics calendar this year which includes to postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games.
Currently the national record holder at 5.81 meters that secured a ticket to Tokyo, Obiena flew back to Formia, Italy to continue his Olympic training after bagging the SEA Games gold medal last December.
The coronavirus crisis, however, put on hold Obiena's usual training routine and he only resumed regular practice last May after authorities opened the Olympic Training Center in Formia.
Obiena will return to action in two weeks, this time in a virtual competition against the world’s finest pole vaulters.
Fellow Olympians Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland and Matt Ludwig of United States will be among Obiena's opponents in the online meet to be streamed from their respective training locations on Aug. 17.