Ernest John “EJ” Obiena captured the men’s pole vault bronze medal in the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, United States Monday (Manila time), July 25 – a historic feat no other Filipino track and field athlete has ever achieved.
He cleared 5.94 meters on his second attempt to win the country’s first athletics medal in the world athletics stage, smashing his previous Asian, continental, national, and personal best record of 5.93m, which he set in the Golden Roof Challenge in September in Austria.
The six-foot-two Obiena, ranked World No. 6, said the medal win was something he really wanted but was not expecting it.
EJ Obiena interview
“I definitely did not expect that I would jump that high. And I would not think that it would actually take that high to win a medal,” he said.
World record holder and reigning Olympic champion Mondo Duplantis of Sweden lived up to his billing to clinch the gold with a 6.21m, breaking the world record anew. He was the lone entry who reached 6m.
The silver went to Tokyo Olympics runner-up Chris Nilsen of the USA. He also registered a 5.94m mark like Obiena but had the better advantage since it only took him one try to clear the height.
Obiena’s training partner and former Olympic champion Brazilian Thiago Braz finished fourth with 5.87m following his failed attempts at 5.94m and 6m.
The 26-year-old posted a screenshot of the men’s pole vault final result on his Facebook with a caption: “2022 World Athletics Championships. Philippines 🇵🇭 is the best in Asia for pole vault. And 3rd best in the world 🌏. EJ is hungry for more cookie. The best is yet to come.”
The post, as of 10 p.m. on Monday, July 25, generated 11,000 reactions, over 1,000 congratulatory comments, and 1,400 shares.
President Ferdinand sends bless
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. praised Obiena and weightlifter Vanessa Sarno, who struck three golds in the Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent City, Uzbekistan.
Marcos wrote on his Facebook: “Malugod naming binabati sina Ernest John “EJ” Obiena at Vanessa Sarno sa tagumpay at karangalang nakamit nila para sa ating bayan. Ipinagmamalaki natin ang husay at tapang na inyong ipinamalas na tiyak na magsisilbing inspirasyon para sa lahat ng Pilipino. Makakaasa kayo sa patuloy at ibayong suporta ng pamahalaan para sa mga atletang Pilipino (We warmly congratulate Ernest John “EJ” Obiena and Vanessa Sarno for the success and honor they achieved for our people. We are proud of the skill and courage you displayed that will surely serve as an inspiration for all Filipinos. You can count on the government’s continued support for Filipino athletes.”
EJ Obiena on social media
Obiena earlier expressed his thoughts on his Facebook, saying, “Normally I only get to thank people when I win. Well for me, being here in Eugene, set to compete in the final of the World Championships is already a big win. After all of the things that have happened; from missing my supposed first World Indoor Championship earlier this year; to contracting COVID-19 a few weeks back, WE ARE HERE.”
He thanked his coach Vitaly Petrov and staff, the legal team from Gana Atienza Avisado Law Offices, the NLS consulting group, good friends and mentors, sports governing bodies of the Philippines; sponsors and CKSC alumni; “people behind the curtains,” and fellow countrymen and the Philippines for the opportunity.
“There are not many people that have experienced what I had and I will forever remember and bring this with me to wherever this journey may be. I started this journey with my family, and now I have a team that I could only have dreamed of and a strong 🇵🇭 nation behind me. Maraming Salamat po,” Obiena added.