Obiena finishes behind reigning Olympic champion in Italian tournament
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena has been vigorously training his sights in seizing a gold medal in next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
With a silver-medal performance in a recent high-level meet in Trieste, Italy, it will come as no surprise if the 6-foot-2 Asian champion climbs the Olympic medal podium next year.
“Barring any disastrous developments, I think he’s capable (of a podium finish),’’ Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Philip Ella Juico said. “Anything can happen.’’
Obiena topped 5.45 meters in the men’s pole vault event of the 13th Trivento International Meeting for the silver, tying his gold-medal mark in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in New Clark City last year.
2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic champion Thiago Braz da Silva of Brazil secured the gold after clearing 5.50 meters and Italy’s Max Mandusic claimed the bronze (5.35 m).
“It was his (Obiena) first competitive tournament since the lockdown five months ago. He was recovering from a back injury,’’ Juico said.
Obiena, the Asian Athletics Championships record holder (5.71 m), has had to adapt to the stringent competition protocols in every tournament that he participates in due to the global coronavirus health crisis.
“There were so many pandemic-related protocols that greeted them hours before the competitions and they still have to adjust to these procedures,’’ said Juico.
Up next for Obiena is the prestigious Diamond League on Aug. 14, after which he tests his rivals in a virtual tournament on Aug. 17.
Obiena shares the same training camp with Da Silva in Formia, Italy, under renowned Ukranian pole vault coach Vitaly Petrov.
With a personal best of 5.81 meters, Obiena was supposed to gauge himself in two major tournaments that were called off early this year due to the pandemic. INQ
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