By Kenneth Joshua Dalde


Tokyo Olympian EJ Obiena proved to be deserving of his spot in the national team Athletics roster, securing his title defense in the Men’s Pole Vault finals during the Southeast Asian Games held at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam on Saturday.

The world ranked no.6 pole-vaulter showcased world class performance on premium as he effortlessly cleared the 5.46 meter clearance in a single attempt, erasing the 5.45m he inked from the previous biennial meet held in the Philippines.

Despite an assured gold, Obiena attempted to shatter his own 5.93m Asian record but the rainy weather slipped away his chances in clearing it after three tries.

"I’m relieved and happy to win the gold. I came here as a favorite and finally delivered. Mission accomplished,” said Obiena.

Fellow Filipino Hokett delos Santos also shone behind Obiena’s success as he settled for silver with 5.00m together with Malaysian pride Iskandar Alwi who took the bronze after recording a 4.80m jump.

The 26-year-old pole vaulter was first excluded by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) from the SEA Games lineup over alleged mishandling of funds, until PATAFA agreed to mediate and Obiena was endorsed to play.

Obiena, who missed the World Athletics Indoor Championships last March 18 to 20 due to the PATAFA's nonedorsement, will be starting to prepare for the 2022 World Outdoor Athletics as both parties reached a settlement to let the Asia’s best pole-vaulter join other competitions.