EJ Obiena, the Philippines’ pole vault star, achieved a monumental milestone in his career by finally surpassing the six-meter barrier at the Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway.
With tears of joy streaming down his face, Obiena reset both his Asian and national records and became the 24th person in history to clear the six-meter mark. The historic achievement was a testament to his unwavering dedication and the exceptional coaching of Vitaly Petrov.
Obiena ranked third in the world, expressed his gratitude to his coach Vitaly who was with him every inch of the way.
He wrote on Facebook, “It all started with a dream to jump over 5m and set the National Record to now be the 24th person all-time to go over the 6m barrier and the first ever Asian/Filipino.
It took a few moments to sink in. But when it did, tears began to fall, there was no greater shoulder to cry on than my coach, Vitaliy. Couldn’t have done it without you. Still a lot of work ahead and still a long season. Just happy and proud to be part of the 6m Club”.
The emotional moment was a culmination of years of hard work and perseverance for Obiena, who had previously set the Asian and Philippine records at 5.94 meters during the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, where he won a bronze medal.
By joining the elite ranks of pole vault legends like Sergey Bubka and current world champion Armand Duplantis, Obiena solidified his status as one of the world’s top athletes in the event. At the Bergen meet, Obiena tied with KC Lightfoot from the United States, but emerged as the victor through a count back, having cleared six meters in a single attempt. Sam Kendricks, also from the United States, claimed the third spot on the podium with a jump of 5.88 meters.
With the six-meter barrier conquered, Obiena now sets his sights on securing an automatic berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics. As the top athlete of the 23-member national delegation of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa), Obiena aims to qualify for the Olympics at the upcoming Asian Athletics Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, from July 12 to 16.
Patafa president Terry Capistrano emphasized the significance of the championships, stating, “Our track and field athletes will not only compete for medals in the tournament, it’s also an opportunity for them to qualify for the Olympics.” World Athletics has established specific criteria for athletes to earn their spot in the upcoming Summer Games, and the Asian Athletics Championships presents a vital opportunity for Obiena and his fellow athletes to meet the qualification standards.
Joining Obiena in the continental championships are renowned athletes such as Eric Cray, a six-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, and Janry Ubas, a SEA Games gold medalist in the long jump. The team also includes talented throwers, jumpers, sprinters, hurdlers, and middle-distance and long-distance runners, all striving to achieve Olympic qualification within the designated one-year window that begins on July 1.
With the support of the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee, Obiena, and his teammates are ready to give their all and pursue their Olympic dreams. As the 6-foot-3 pole vault sensation, Obiena needs to clear 5.82 meters to secure an outright spot in the Paris Olympics. With his recent breakthrough and unyielding determination, Obiena stands poised to soar to even greater heights and represent his country proudly on the global stage.