Despite his bronze-medal finish in his Monaco leg debut of the Wanda Diamond League athletic series Saturday (Friday in Monaco), Olympics-bound pole-vaulter Ernest John Obiena felt he could have placed higher.
“It’s OK, it’s good. but I could have done better,” Obiena said a few hours after clearing 5.70 meters to place third behind Swedish-American Armand Duplantis and Belgian Ben Broeders, who finished first and second, respectively, at the 16,000-seat Stade Louis II stadium.
Duplantis, who holds the world record of 6.18 meters, bagged the gold with a jump of 6.0 0meters while Broeders also cleared 5.70 meters on his first try, compared to the Pinoy athlete’s second attempt, in clinching the silver medal.
On top of earning Diamond League series points, the top three finishers also took home $5,000, $3,000 and $1,500 in cash prizes, respectively.
Rio Olympic Games men’s pole vault champion Thiago Braz, Obiena’s training partner at the World Athletics elite training camp in Formia, Italy, slumped to fifth spot (5.50) while reigning world titlist Sam Kendricks of the US was scratched from the competition.
Obiena's showing was a marked improvement over his 5.45-meter effort in securing the silver in the 13th Triveneto meet in Trieste, Italy last Aug. 4, equal to his gold medal-winning performance in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last December.
Still, Obiena bared that, “all things considered, what I could have done today was a lot more than what actually manifested (on the field). I’m working on it because I didn’t like how I mentally approached the last few minutes of the competition. That is something very important to me.
“To be honest it’s really complicated, but I am not so happy with the vault that I did.”
He said that he was not completely fit, requiring two weeks of therapy last July in Stuttgart, Germany, to treat recurring back spasms.
Going up against the world’s best was no big deal for him, Obiena added, noting that “to be honest it felt like a regular competition for me. There’s no big difference here.”
The lean and lanky athlete will just have enough time to return to his Italian training camp to make adjustments on his form before competing again on Tuesday, Aug. 17, in the “Who is the Finest Pole Vaulter in the World?,” an online competition.
Obiena will be pitted against two fellow Olympic qualifiers: US indoor champion Matt Ludwig and former European indoor champion Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland.
Ludwig, 24, who has a personal best of 5.90 meters, jumped 5.85 meters at the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships held last Feb. 14-15 at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Meanwhile, Wogciechowski, 31, owns a personal best of 5.90 meters in clinching the gold at the European indoor championships in Glasgow, Scotland last year.
All three pole vaulters will be competing against each other on their respective home turfs at 9 a.m. (US Eastern time), with Obiena doing his jumps at the World Athletics pole vault training center in the coastal city of Formia, nearly a two-hour drive and 166.7-kilometers southeast of the Italian capital of Rome.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).