EJ ends season with bronze

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    OLYMPIC qualifier Ernest John Obiena’s season came to an end last Friday with a season-best jump of 5.80 meters and clinched the bronze medal in the men’s pole vault event at the Pietro Mennea Golden Gala meet at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy.

    It was the final competition for the lanky Filipino athlete, whose jump was a shade short of his national mark of 5.81 set in topping the Salto Con l’Asta pole vault tournament in Piazza, Italy on Sept. 3, 2019, earning his ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. The Olympic cut is 5.80 meters.

    Swedish-American star Armand Duplantis ruled the event with a new outdoor world record of 6.15 meters, eclipsing the 26-year-old mark of 6.14 meters set by the legendary world and Olympic champion Sergey Bubka of the Ukraine.

    Belgian Ben Broeders won the silver medal with a similar jump of 5.80 meters on his second try compared to the Filipino’s third and last attempt.

    “We finally say goodbye to the weird 2020 season,” Obiena said on his Facebook page last Saturday. “My 2019 self wouldn’t have predicted that 2020 would be so unpredictable. It has been a roller-coaster ride since January and still doesn’t show signs of slowing down.”

    The pole vaulter, who bagged his first gold in the 30th Southeast Asian Games with a new games record of 5.45 meters, was invited to the next leg of the Diamond League athletic series in Doha, Qatar on Sept. 24 but declined because of passport problems.

    Athletics chief Philip Ella Juico said Obiena’s passport is set to expire within six months, barring him from traveling to the Qatari capital under existing aviation laws.