Pole vaulter EJ Obiena capped off his indoor season campaign with a bronze-medal finish in the prestigious Copernicus Cup 2021 at the Arena Torun in Poland early Thursday.
Obiena, one of the country’s four qualifiers to the Tokyo Olympics, vaulted 5.80 meters to settle behind two-time world champion Sam Kendricks of the United States and hometown bet Piotr Lisek.
The trio actually cleared the bar at 5.80m, but Kendricks captured the gold and Lisek the silver via countback.
All three attempted 5.87m but failed.
“Tough game, but thankful for the 5.80m jump on countback,” Obiena wrote in his social media account.
This was Obiena’s first podium finish in a gold standard event this year after coming in fifth both at the Karlsruhe Indoor meet in Germany and the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de Calais in Lievin.
But he has won two gold and one silver medals in previous meets, and surpassed his national indoor record twice.
Obiena returns to Italy to resume his training for the Olympics with renowned Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov.
“Going ‘home’ with a (bronze medal) and lots and lots of learning plus some bruises,” Obiena posted on his Facebook account.
He thanked his supporters for all the support, particularly Petrov for being there for him throughout.
“Hope to somehow someday to make it all worthwhile,” he said.