EJ Obiena kicked off the gold rush for this year after ruling the men’s pole vault event of the Perche En Or tournament at the Stab Velodrome in Roubaix, France late Saturday (Manila time).
The 27-year-old Olympian needed only one try to register 5.82 meters and claim his first gold medal in the international arena for the 2023 indoor season following a bridesmaid finish at the Internationales-Springer Meeting at the Lausitz-Arena in Cottbus, Germany last Thursday.
Yao Jie of China settled for a silver medal after clearing 5.75 meters while Ethan Cormont of France pocketed the bronze after registering 5.65 meters.
Hometown bets Robin Emig and Matthew Collet also notched 5.65 meters but settled for the fourth and fifth places due to countback.
Another French vaulter in Thibaut Collet is at sixth with 5.55 meters while seasoned international campaigner Valentin Lavillenie is at seventh with 5.40 meters.
Asian vaulters Huang Bokal of China and Seito Yamamoto of Japan were tied at eighth with 5.40 meters while Harry Coppell of Great Britain emerged 10th with a similar 5.40-meter vault.
Rounding up the field were Romain Gavillon of France at 11th with 5.25 meters and Alione Sene of France who never made it past the starting mark of 5.25 meters.
World champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden and World Athletics Championships silver medalist Chris Nilsen of the United States did not participate in the tournament.
Obiena is also slated to participate in the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland on 8 February and the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais in Lievin, France on 15 February.
These tourneys have been calendared under the 2023 World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold, including the World Indoor Tour Madrid on 22 February.
Obiena is gearing up for a lot of tournaments for this year, including the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships from 10 to 12 February in Kazakhstan.
Aside from the Asian Indoor, Obiena faces a very busy year as he defends his title in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia in May and competes at the 19th Asian Games in China in September.