Obiena claims gold in LA Grand Prix

The Philippine Star
Obiena claims gold in LA Grand Prix
EJ Obiena with sport psychologist Dr. Sheryll Casuga in Los Angeles.
Photo courtesy of Bill Velasco

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino pole-vaulter EJ Obiena continued to build momentum and confidence on his way to the Paris Olympics as he ruled the Los Angeles Grand Prix in California yesterday.

The Asian champion and world No. 2 cleared 5.80 meters in snaring the mint, besting Norwegian Simen Guttormsen and American KC Lightfoot, who took the silver and bronze, respectively.

Guttormsen, Lightfoot and Tokyo silver medalist Chris Nilsen of the United States all ended up with 5.70m with the first two taking podium honors via count back tiebreak.

It wasn’t the distance Obiena wanted but he nonetheless got the job done.

He had two victories early in the year with the first coming in the Memorial Josip Gasparac in Croatia where he cleared 5.83m and the other in the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin, Germany where he did a 5.93m.

Hoping to join Obiena in Paris was Lauren Hoffman, who gained headway in her Olympic bid after finishing fifth in the women’s 400m hurdles with a time of 55.84 seconds.

Hoffman’s clocking was behind the national mark of 55.72 she set in the Drake Relays in Iowa last month that improved her current world rankings of No. 32, which is still within the range of the top 40 Paris Games slots for her event.

There are two ways for her to qualify, the first via hitting the Olympic standard of 54.85 or cracking the top 40 rankings.

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