Ernest John Obiena competes during the men’s pole vault event of the ISTAF indoor athletics meeting in Berlin on February 4, 2022. (AFP)

EJ Obiena finished fourth in a field of eight world-class athletes to jumpstart his indoor season campaign in the ISTAF Indoor Berlin tournament in Germany Friday (early Saturday in Manila).

The national and Asian record-holder vaulted 5.70 meters to settle behind reigning Olympic champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden, who posted a meet-best 6.03m for the gold medal.

Duplantis’ feat erased the 2015 meeting record of France’s Renaud Lavillenie of 6.02m.

Obiena tried 5.81m but failed on all three attempts.

“I was close,” he said in a video interview with the tournament organizers.

“But you know, I didn’t rehab the time and training that I should be doing. I’m not where I wanted to be. But as I said, I’ll take what I can take. I’ll enjoy what I do and I cherish every moment.”

Tokyo Olympian KC Lightfoot of the United States clinched the silver with 5.92m, while German Oleg Zernikel performed a personal-best 5.81m for the bronze.

Germany’s Bo Kanda Lita Baehre and Poland’s Piotr Lisek also finished with similar 5.70m along with Obiena but the Filipino veteran settled for the highest placing via countback.

Netherlands’ Rutger Koppelaar and Germany’s Torben Blech posted 5.45m for seventh and eighth places.

After Berlin, Obiena goes to Uppsala, Sweden for the International Pole Vault Invitational on Feb. 9, followed by the Orlen Cup in Lodz, Poland on Feb. 11.

Source: Manila Bulletin (