The dream that matters most for Ernest John Obiena
Every time pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena dreams big, it unfolds with gratifying results.
And after a series of personal achievements last year, Obiena knows the time is ripe to visualize himself winning the elusive Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.
“My target in Tokyo is gold. Not impossible, but very difficult,’’ Obiena told the Inquirer during a break in training with renowned Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov in Formia, Italy.
The 24-year-old son of the Philippines’ former pole vault idol Emerson Obiena dreamed of victory in the 2019 Asian Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar. It came true.
Shortly after, another gold came at the 2019 Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy, with a new national record of 5.76 meters.
Just two months after the Universiade, Obiena secured the Tokyo berth by clearing 5.81 meters and surpassing the qualifying standard of 5.80 by a hair, so to speak, in a tournament in Chiara, Italy, last Sept. 3.
Obiena punctuated a lucky year with a dominating effort in the SEA Games in front of a supportive hometown crowd at New Clark City track and field oval in Capas, Tarlac.
“I’m really focused on improving my personal best of 5.81 meters,” said the athletic 6-foot-3 Obiena.
Obiena will have to hurdle at least 6.03 meters, the height that Thiago Braz da Silva of Brazil conquered to seize the gold medal in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Braz da Silva also trains under Petrov.
Renaud Lavillenie of France (5.98 meters) claimed the silver while Sam Kendricks (5.85 meters) of the United States completed the podium in Rio.
“I was supposed to compete twice in China for the month of February and March. All competitions, decisions and training after that are all about Tokyo,” Obiena said.
The Asian Athletics Indoor Championships in Hangzhou, China, was set on Feb. 12 to 13 and the 18th World Athletics Indoor Championships a month later in Nanjing. Both were canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. INQ
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