Pole vaulter EJ Obiena finally captured his first gold medal of the season by beating former Olympic medalists at the 59th Ostrava Golden Spike tournament in Czech Republic on Tuesday.
The Tokyo Olympics-bound Obiena prevailed via countback over 2012 London Olympics champion and 2016 Rio Olympics silver winner Renaud Lavillenie of France after both registered season-best 5.74 meters on their second attempts.
Two-time world champion and 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medalist San Kendricks of the United States came in bronze with 5.64m.
The star-studded field also boasts of reigning Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil, and former world champions Raphael Holzdeppe of Germany and Pawel Wojciechowski.
Obiena’s recent feat was close to his personal best of 5.81m.
It was the fourth podium finish for Obiena this season. His previous accomplishments were at the 13th Triveneto Meet in Italy where he finished silver (5.45m), at the elite Diamond League in Monaco where he pocketed bronze (5.70m), and at a virtual meet where he placed second (5.60m).
“Thank you God for the long awaited win. I offer this to your given grace,” Obiena posted on his Facebook account.
“Truly grateful for the gold medal against the world’s bests in pole vault. Thank you Philippines, truly proud to represent you.”
Obiena was coming off the Golden Fly Series in Innsbruck, Austria last weekend, which was discontinued due to thunderstorms.
It will be a busy month for Obiena as he is set to compete at the Poznan Poland Competitions on Friday, and is waitlisted at the Istaff Berlin Continental Tour in Germany. He is also seeing action in the Rome Diamond League on Sept. 17 and the Doha Diamond League on Sept. 24.