Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena cleared a season-best 5.80 meters en route to another medal finish, this time at the Diamond League meet in Rome early Friday morning.
Obiena was just one centimeter short of tying his career-best, which he set last year and which allowed him to become the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
The 24-year-old earned a bronze medal for his efforts, finishing behind world record holder Armand "Mondo" Duplantis of Sweden and Ben Broeders of Belgium.
Duplantis, a 20-year-old prodigy who earlier this year broke pole vault legend Sergey Bubka's 6.14m set in July 1994, cleared 6.15m in his second attempt. Duplantis had cleared 6.18m in a meet in Glasgow, Scotland to set the new record
PATAFA Chairman Philip Ella Juico is very satisfied with the results Obiena had been tallying over the past weeks.
"Clearly, EJ continues to more than just hold his own against the world's best. The field in the Diamond League in Rome included Swedish-American Armand Duplantis, world record holder; Belgian Ben Broefers, European champion and Renaud Levillanie from France. The field can't get any much tougher than that," explained the athletics chief.
"Rome showed that the gold medal leap in Tokyo will be between 5.8 m and 6.0. EJ's calibrated performance and training regimen does not show signs of early peaking. Our bet is training hard and smart under coach Vitaly Petrov," he added.
Obiena is just days removed from a stellar gold-medal performance in Czech Republic, besting former Olympic gold medalists Thiago Braz and Levillanie.