The world’s top three, Italy-based Filipino EJ Obiena included, made the grade for a stint in the pole vault final of the 20223 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Obiena, now rated No. 3, did 5.75 meters to join Olympic and world champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden and world No. 2 Christopher Nilsen of the United States in the medal phase with identical 5.75-meter efforts.
Also posting 5.75m were Zach McWhorter, also of the US, and the Chinese pair of Huang Bokai and Jie Yao.
Also making the 5.75m mark were Piotr Lisek and Robert Sobera of Poland, Oleg Zernikel of Germany, Kurtis Marschall of Australia, Ersu Sasma of Turkey and Claudio Stecchi of Italy.
Obiena is the country’s best medal bet in the World Athletics Championships as hurdlers Robyn Brown and Eric Cray crashed out in the preliminaries.
The pole vaulter from Tondo, Manila is seeking to improve from his bronze medal finish last year after going over 5.94m, then a Philippine and Asian record.
After becoming the first Asian to get past the six-meter mark and the first Filipino to book a spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Obiena will be entering the tournament confident and focused for the final round.
The final will be on 27 August.
In last year’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon, Obiena wound up third behind Duplantis and Nilsen.
Duplantis will be attempting to win his sixth straight title, having won the European, world outdoor and world indoor in 2022 and Olympic and European indoor crowns in 2021.
Last June in Ostrava, Duplantis did 6.12 m.