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EJ Obiena powers through despite feeling ‘sluggish’ in Olympic debut

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 03:19 PM July 31, 2021
EJ Obiena at the stands after an attempt in the men's pole vault qualification

EJ Obiena at the stands after an attempt in the men’s pole vault qualification in the Tokyo Olympics. FRANCIS OCHOA

MANILA, Philippines—Call it nerves or whatnot, but EJ Obiena admitted feeling sluggish during his Olympic debut in the men’s pole vault but powered through to make the final in Tokyo Saturday at Olympic Stadium.

Obiena seemed to have no problem getting over the 5.50 and 5.65-meter heights during the qualifying stages but his momentum dropped when it came to clearing 5.75m.

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The world no.6 pole vaulter took three tries to clear 5.75 meters and his final attempt was, by all accounts, clutch as he clinched the fifth spot in Group A and the 10th seed overall to qualify for the medal round on Tuesday.

Aware of his lackluster performance, Obiena said he has to get better in the final.

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“I need to ask my coach because he would know what went wrong and, definitely, I need to do better,” said Obiena.

The 25-year-old said he felt strange leading up to the qualifying event and he knows that his coach Vitaly Petrov would be telling him off for his showing.

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“I made it to the finals! I was just feeling very sluggish, which is really strange. It felt really strange inside the field. I didn’t feel like me until the bar moved at 5.75m at first attempt,” said Obiena.

“I’ll talk to my coach, but I know what I did, I had a lot of mistakes. I didn’t follow some of his calls, and I was struggling mentally, then I didn’t feel that confident than I usually am but if I had another chance, then I’m gonna make it.”

Obiena, who skipped the first jump at 5.30m, hit the bar in his first attempt at 5.75m and failed to complete his second.

With one last chance at the height, Obiena buckled down and cleared the bar cementing his place for the final.

“I felt normal in the warmup , going in it was okay but as I started to jump it didn’t feel like myself, I felt slow but my coach was saying I was fast so there were some contradicting thoughts.”

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