EJ Obiena shares gold with Olympic champ Thiago Braz in Germany tilt
Ernest John Obiena has been thriving in every European tournament on his journey going to the Tokyo Olympics lately.
And the least that the country’s pole vault hero needs is a source of irritation and unnecessary disturbance before trying to scale the tallest hurdle of his career.
“One month to go. I’m praying for less distraction, deterrent and mishaps. I have to focus on the task at hand to get me and my team zoned in,” said Obiena.
The current Asian champion shared the gold medal with defending Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil in the just-concluded True Athletes Classics in Leverkusen, Germany.
Obiena and Braz, who both train under renowned Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov, cleared 5.80 meters on their second attempts to rule the event over nine other participants who are mostly Olympic qualifiers.
The 25-year-old Obiena tried to reset his own national record of 5.85 meters, but couldn’t pull it off after three tries at 5.90m, a height that Braz likewise failed to conquer.
It was the second gold medal for the 6-foot-2 second-generation pole vaulter in the outdoor European circuit in a span of two weeks.
Obiena registered a new outdoor Philippine standard of 5.85m recently after three attempts in the Jump and Fly Competition in Mossinger, Germany.
“I’m happy where I’m at, but satisfied is a long way to go. The job’s not done yet,” said Obiena, who set up his training camp in Formia, Italy immediately after claiming the Southeast Asian Games gold medal in 2019.
“We’re still working on it and there’s still a lot of things that needs to be done,” added the son of Emerson Obiena, the nation’s pole vault ace during his prime in the 90s.
Bo Kanda Lita Baehre of Germany snared the bronze after clearing 5.80 meters on his third jump and compatriot Oleg Zernikel placed fourth (5.65m).
Melker Svard Jakobsson of Sweden wound up fifth while Olympic qualifiers Sondre Guttormsen of Norway and Toben Bleck of Germany ended up sixth and seventh.
The men’s pole vault tourney in the Tokyo Summer Games is scheduled July 31 at the New National Stadium with the finals on Aug. 3, where Armand Duplantis of Sweden is a favorite after setting the world record of 6.18 meters.
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