Obiena’s #ThirstForGold continues
Obiena’s world-class prowess was in full display at the IAAF Diamond League at the Charléty stadium in Paris, where he sailed past the 5.91-meter bar with ease right on his first attempt to shatter his own Philippine pole vault record of 5.87 meters he established in July at the World Athletics Continental Tour in Poland. The Diamond League feat earned him a silver medal behind world-record holder and Olympic champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden. The 25-year-old Obiena was comfortable clearing the 5.7 to 5.8-meter range early this year, but was having trouble going higher, including at the Tokyo Olympic Games, where he advanced to the finals as the only Asian pole vaulter to do so and eventually placed 11th. His Paris campaign, however, showed that Obiena is back. "Thank you to those who keep on supporting and believing, despite the ups and downs. Getting there," said Obiena in a Facebook message to his well-wishers. So impressive was Obiena’s Diamond League showing that his feat would have earned him a bronze in the Tokyo games, where Brazil’s Thiago Braz earned third spot with a leap of 5.87. "(I am) still hungry and still yearning for a better me," said Obiena. "I am confident with my abilities to go against the world's greatest." Obiena immediately got back into training under legendary coach Vitaly Petrov in Formia, Italy after his Tokyo stint. In his first tournament since the Olympics at the Athletissima Diamond League in Laussane, Switzerland, Obiena managed 5th place against a star-studded field, practically the same Tokyo cast he competed against.
“He was just able to do the necessary adjustments during his attempts at the previous heights before 5.91m,” said Obiena’s father Emerson. “That 5.90 + m clearance potential was there already during the early outdoor season competition. Now, it's official.” Obiena even went toe-to-toe with Duplantis, who eventually took the gold medal with a leap of 6.01. But the Filipino was able to beat Tokyo Olympics' silver medallist and Lausanne leg winner Cris Nielsen, bumping off the American to third place at 5.81 meters. “Summit Natural Drinking Water, the official hydration partner of Team Philippines, is very proud of what EJ has accomplished. His being an Olympian and one of the world’s best in the sport are already achievements that are unmatched by any Filipino in athletics,” says Summit Brand Manager, Francheska Garcia “We take pride in the fact that Summit Philippines has been a part of EJ’s Olympic journey and we will still be there until he quenches his #ThirstForGold,” Garcia adds. In a recent Facebook post, Obiena’s state of mind can be gleaned from his hashtags #polevault #bringyouragame #foreverfaster and #thirstformore, proving to all that his journey to become the best version of himself continues. “I still love the sport of pole vaulting. I still love representing my great country. I still love competing. I still know I can win. I will be back, and I will be back to win,” said Obiena.