As expected, World No. 2 pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena gave the Philippines a gold medal at the 19th Asian Games here on Saturday night, exactly a week since the meet opened.
The 27-year-old Obiena cleared 5.90 meters to outclass the competition at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium for the country’s first gold after a silver and six bronze medals.
His feat erased the Asiad record 5.75m of Japanese Seito Yamamoto set in the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang edition.
China’s Huang Bokai and Saudi Arabia’s Hussain al Hizam both had 5.65m but the local bet took the silver on countback.
“I didn’t want to stop at 5.90,” Obiena told reporters, referring to his attempt at 6.02m. “I’m excited to take this medal, put it on a shelf, but I would have liked to hit a record in front of an Asian crowd. That would have been amazing.”
“Unfortunately, I didn’t have it in me, but this is one of the biggest stadiums I’ve been in and one of the most amazing crowds,” he added.
Obiena was the first Filipino to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics after a 5.82-m finish at the Bauhaus-Galan tournament in Stockholm, Sweden in July.
He finished second to World No. 1 and hometowm favorite Armand Duplantis. (PNA)