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EJ Obiena Wins Gold at LA Grand Prix

Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, a POLE vaulter, won the gold medal at the Los Angeles Grand Prix on May 19 at Drake Stadium, advancing him closer to the Paris Olympics.

After winning three titles in four competitions this year, Obiena became the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the Paris Games with a 5.80-meter clearance.

Simen Guttormsen of Norway and KC Lightfoot of the United States both reached 5.70 meters, but Obiena performed better. Having made fewer attempts than Lightfoot, who brought home the bronze, Guttormsen took home the silver.

On his first try, Obiena passed 5.45 and 5.60 meters, missing the 5.30-meter mark. There was a small obstacle at 5.70 meters, and it took him two tries to get over it. In the end, Obiena emerged as the sole athlete out of the eight to go over 5.80 meters, winning his third gold medal of the year.

Obiena had already won gold earlier in the year, clearing 5.83 meters in the Memorial Josip Gasparac in Croatia and jumping 5.93 meters in the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin, Germany. February saw the dates of both occurrences. At the Glasgow, Scotland, World Indoor Championships in March, he placed ninth with a best clearance of 5.65 meters.

In the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the LA Grand Prix, Filipino American Lauren Hoffman finished fifth with a time of 55.84 seconds, just short of the Olympic qualification standard of 54.85 seconds. American Anna Cockrell won gold with a time of 53.75 seconds, followed by Jamaica’s Andrenette Knight (54.69) and American Cassandra Tate (55.02), who took silver and bronze, respectively.

Hoffman needs to meet the Olympic qualification standard by June 30 or rank in the top 16 of her event to qualify for the Paris Games. Currently, she is ranked 28th.

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