April 20, 2024

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Paris Olympics-bound EJ Obiena opens 2024 with a golden vault in Croatia

4 min read
GOLDEN OPENER. Ernest John “EJ” Obiena of the Philippines opens his 2024 season with a gold medal finish at the Memorial Josip Gasparac in Croatia. EJ OBIENA – ERNEST OBIENA FACEBOOK PHOTO

EJ Obiena, the Filipino pole vault sensation, kicked off the new year with the same winning spirit that marked his remarkable 2023. On Tuesday, February 20 (Wednesday, February 21, Manila time), he soared to victory at the Memorial Josip Gasparac in Croatia, capturing yet another gold medal.

Obiena, fresh from his triumph at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in September, made a statement by not just winning but by setting a new meet record of 5.83m. 

With only one attempt, he effortlessly surpassed the previous record of 5.72m held jointly by Greece’s Emmanouil Karalis and Poland’s Piotr Lisek.

The competition was fierce, but Obiena’s prowess was on full display as he dominated the event. 

Portugal’s Pedro Buaro secured the silver with a height of 5.73m, while the USA’s Olen Tray Oates claimed the bronze with a jump of 5.61m.

Ranked second globally, just behind the reigning Olympic champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden, Obiena strategically skipped the initial heights, joining the action at 5.51m, which he cleared effortlessly in a single try. Demonstrating his skill, the Asian record holder conquered 5.73m in two attempts, securing the top prize as Buaro exited the competition.

Eager to challenge himself and set the bar higher, Obiena took a shot at 5.93m, although he couldn’t quite clear it. Nevertheless, his performance showcased his determination and ambition as he looked ahead to the Paris Olympics.

Obiena, accompanied by his coach Vitaly Petrov, faced tough competition from athletes like Saudi Arabia’s Hussain Al-Hizam and China’s Huang Bokai, who also train under the same Ukrainian mentor. Al-Hizam finished fourth with a height of 5.51m, while Huang secured the seventh spot with a jump of 5.31m.

With the Memorial Josip Gasparac behind him, Obiena is now set to participate in the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin, Germany, on February 23. The event will serve as another crucial step in his preparation for the upcoming World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, scheduled for March 3.

As Obiena continues to reach new heights, his journey becomes not just a personal quest for excellence but a source of inspiration for Filipino sports enthusiasts and a testament to the power of dedication and hard work in the pursuit of athletic greatness. The stage is set for more thrilling performances as he aims to make a lasting impact on the global stage.

EJ Obiena of the Philippines, second from left, with his coaching staff at the Memorial Josip Gasparac in Croatia. EJ OBIENA – ERNEST OBIENA FACEBOOK PHOTO

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