EJ Obiena relishes camaraderie with rivals | Inquirer Sports
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UNIQUE INPOLE VAULT

EJ Obiena relishes camaraderie with rivals

/ 05:15 AM October 08, 2020

There’s one thing that makes pole vault a unique sport.

“We are pushing each other to greater heights,” Olympics-bound Filipino pole vault ace EJ Obiena said as he elaborated on the reasons why he loves the sport so much and why he has a solid shot at a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics next year.

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“It’s not about one guy trying to kill each other,” Obiena, who trains in Formia, Italy, added in an interview with the Inqui­rer. “Pole vaulting has one of best camaraderie in all track and field maybe even in all of sport that I know. That speaks for something.”

Obiena just came from a watershed season where he won one gold and two bronze medals in tournaments where he competed against the likes of world record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden, who owns the mark of 6.18 meters, and reigning Olympic and World champions.

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It is also because of a social media article from a foreign outfit that came out recently why Obiena is talking about camaraderie in his sport, as that report pitted him against Duplantis.

“It’s a very unique sport,” said the Asian and Southeast Asian title-holder. “You see people go up on a stick to another bar. To be honest it’s hard to explain. It’s just downright crazy, but at the same time it’s amazing.”

He said there are also rivalries in pole vaulting, but there’s “too much respect, and rivals can be very good friends because we understand what the other guy’s been through.”

Obiena has shifted to off-season training until December to prime himself for the coming year.

He is planning to compete indoors in Tokyo in February, although he said he totally doesn’t know “what will happen depending on the pandemic.”

Obiena made the Tokyo Games field way ahead of everyone else, and is touted as a bright hope for the Philippines to finally end its century-long thirst for a gold medal.

“I do believe I belong there,” Obiena, who has a personal best of 5.81m, said.

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