The Tondo native’s final 5.90 meter (m) clearance last September 30, 2023, was historically the tournament’s greatest, surpassing the initial 5.70m benchmark previously set by Japan’s Seito Yamamoto in 2018—where Obiena finished seventh (5.30m)
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Obiena’s record-breaking performance was his last for 2023, with an Olympic bout in his sights.
“It has been an amazing year for me and I’m very proud of it…I’m turning it off for a moment to enjoy the (rest of the) year,’’ Obiena mentioned.
After a convincing 2023 campaign, the 27-year-old booked an early reservation to the Paris 2024 Games, clearing the Olympic standard of 5.82 meters at the Bauhaus Galan in Stockholm, Sweden, last July 2023. Currently ranked as the world’s second-best vaulter behind Armand Duplantis, Obiena looks to reunite with his Swedish rival in July 2024, chasing Olympic glory.
Obiena’s feat marked the Philippines’ first gold medal finish since the late Lydia De Vega’s triumph for gold in the tournament’s 100m sprints in 1986’s Seoul, South Korea—nearly four decades in the making.