Filipino Olympian Ernest “EJ” Obiena unfurled his winning form again, winning a pole vault gold medal in the Taby Stavhoppsgala tournament in Taby, Sweden as he gears up for the World Athletics Championships slated two weeks from now.
Showing no ill effects of the COVID-19 virus infection he sustained recently, the pride of Tondo, Manila registered 5.92 meters in the same street pole vault competition he ruled last year, where some of the best in the world are competing.
Obiena’s performance was just 0.1 centimeter shy of his Asian record and his personal best of 5.93, which he set at the 17th Golden Roof Challenge in Austria in September last year.
Thiago Braz of Brazil, Obiena’s constant training competition, took the silver with a 5.82-meter leap, while Norway’s Simen Guttormsen placed third with a 5.72-m for the bronze medal.
In a social media post, Obiena expressed his thanks to a couple of compatriots, who supported his campaign.
“To the two kababayan who came and watched and even asked if I want any water or energy drink, ramdam ko po ang pag-mamalasakit ninyo. Maraming salamat po,” said Obiena, who looks forward to another big performance in Stockholm’s capital Sweden this weekend.
The Europe competitions serve as Obiena’s preparation for his biggest task ahead this season, the World Athletics Championships slated on July 15 to 25 in Oregon, USA.
Obiena’s prime benefactor, Jim Lafferty, was ecstatic with the Filipino’s victory.
“Big shout-out congrats to superstar Ernest Obiena for a terrific win,” said Lafferty. “This puts EJ in great shape heading into Stockholm this weekend and the upcoming World Championships. Way to go EJ! We are so proud of you!”
Obiena was coming off a golden victory in the European City of Sports leg in L’Aquila, Italy before he was hit by the COVID-19 virus.
The 26-year-old Obiena earlier defended the pole vault title at the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam with a new SEA Games record of 5.46m.