Asian pole vault king Obiena sets SEA Games record

The 26-year-old Filipino, ranked the sixth-best men's pole vaulter in the world, eclipsed his own previous Southeast Asian Games record 5.45m he set in winning gold in 2019.

Philippines' Ernest John Obiena competes during the men's pole vault event of the ISTAF indoor athletics meeting in Berlin on February 4, 2022. Picture: John MACDOUGALL / AFP

HANOI, VIETNAM - Asia's top pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena set his sights on the World Athletics Championships in July after retaining his SEA Games title by easily clearing a Games-record 5.46m on Saturday.

The 26-year-old Filipino, ranked the sixth-best men's pole vaulter in the world, eclipsed his own previous Southeast Asian Games record 5.45m he set in winning gold in 2019.

But in hazy conditions at My Dinh National Stadium in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, Obiena fell short of bettering his Asian-record 5.93m.

"I wanted to beat the Asian record. You never know how many chances I get, I wanted, I really wanted it today," he told reporters afterwards, having failed three times at 5.94m.

But he was nevertheless feeling "positive" about the World Championships in Oregon in two months' time.

"The first battle is I need to make sure I get in there. (First) I get selected to compete and the next one is perform well," said Obiena, who was joint 11th at last summer's Tokyo Olympics.

"That’s why I’m here. I’m preparing."