Obiena pockets another silver behind Olympic champ
Ernest John Obiena arrived from the Diamond League in Monaco on Saturday afternoon and, in less than 48 hours, jumped right back into another star-studded tournament held at his training camp in Formia, Italy.
If the Filipino pole vault ace was any bit travel-weary after competing in back-to-back events, he didn’t show it.
Obiena placed second in the Fine Guard virtual meet late Monday, his third consecutive medal in a high-level tournament and a feat he achieved in a span of two weeks.
The first Filipino to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics cleared 5.60 meters for the silver medal, a few inches short of the 5.70-meter, golden effort of reigning Olympic men’s pole vault champion Thiago Braz da Silva of Brazil.
“It has been a fruitful two weeks with three medals, but the gold remains elusive. I hope to get them in the coming competitions,” said Obiena, the current Asian men’s pole vault champion.
“Thank you to all the 100 countries which tuned in. Philippines, I hope I made you proud,’’ added the rangy 6-foot-3 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist.US indoor pole vault champion Matt Ludwig cleared 5.35 for the bronze medal and Pawel Wojciechowski, Poland’s Olympic prospect, wound up fourth at 5.20.
“EJ continues to make the country proud. These meets are EJ’s first set of competitions after several months of layoff forced by the (coronavirus) pandemic,” said Philip Ella Juico, Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president.
Obiena, who likewise secured a silver medal against Braz da Silva in the 13th Trivento International Meeting in Trieste, Italy, early this month, pulled it off at Fine Guard despite the challenging conditions in Formia due to the extremely strong side winds on the field.
Now that he has fully recovered from a nagging back injury, Obiena is intent on participating in as many competitions to refine his technique.
“The Diamond League where he captured the bronze medal is an Olympic-level competition. It is somewhat a preview of the Tokyo Olympics,” Juico said.“EJ now looks forward to competing in more tournaments as part of his preparations for the Olympics,” Juico added.
Obiena is laying down the groundwork to claim the first Olympic gold medal for the country in the coming Tokyo Summer Games next year.