Filipino Olympian pole vaulter Ernest John ” EJ ” Obiena captured his sixth gold medal in 2022 after emerging champion in the Jump and Fly meet in Weserstadion, Hechingen in Germany over the weekend.
He cleared 5.80 meters ( m ) in his third attempt in the meet where star pole vaulters the likes of Olympic champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden and Piotr Lisek of Poland missed the action.
But his 5.80 leap was 0.5m shorter than his 5.85m record in the 2021 edition of the competition in Mossingen.
Obiena, on his Facebook, posted: ” Sixth ( gold ) for the year reppin’ the Philippines. Keep jumping, keep improving. With God’s grace and determination, we’ll soon get to reach our goal. “
The 26 – year – old’s feat in Germany is a huge comeback from finishing sixth on June 30 at the Stockholm Diamond League where Sweden’s Duplantis set a new world record ( 6.16m ). The Filipino managed to only clear 5.73m in that event. “ You win some….. then you learn some, ” he posted on his Facebook on July 1 following his failure to snatch a medal.
Huang Bokai of China registered 5.50m to settle for the silver medal while Vincent Hobbie of Germany ( 5.10m ) salvaged the bronze.
The six – foot – two Filipino pole vault sensation also clinched the Taby Stavhoppsgala tournament title in Sweden via a personal season – best 5.92m performance.
Obiena also swept the golds in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, the European City of Sports event in Italy, the Orlen Cup and Orlen Copernicus Cup in Poland.
He aims for another shot to become a world champion when he competes in the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA scheduled from July 15 to 24.
EJ Obiena SEA game
The two – time SEA Games gold medalist also won golds in the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar and Universiade in Naples.
Obiena learned the ropes of pole vaulting at age eight with his father Emerson as coach until he turned 18. He played for the University of Santo Tomas in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines ( UAAP ).
He figured in a long-standing highly-publicized rift with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association ( PATAFA ) that cost him his stint in the 2022 IAAF World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, and nearly missed his title – retention bid in the Vietnam SEA Games.
But both parties agreed to a settlement through a mediation handled by the Philippine Sports Commission. This paved the way for Obiena to compete in the 31st SEA Games and the upcoming 2022 World Outdoor Athletics with an endorsement from PATAFA.
The World No. 5 pole vaulter became the country’s flag bearer in the SEA Games held in Hanoi, Vietnam where the Philippines finished fourth overall with a total of 52 gold medals, 70 silvers, and 10 bronzes.