Paris berth secured, EJ Obiena shifts training gears
With a spot in the 2024 Olympics in Paris no longer a concern, Ernest John Obiena will now shift to making sure he will be in the medal hunt there.
“We’re not chasing points, we’re not chasing standards anymore, so we have enough time to actually build up and make sure the preparations that we’re going to do starting at the end of this season will be all about Paris,’’ said Obiena, whose 5.82-meter jump at the Bauhaus Galan Diamond League in Stockholm, Sweden, last week clinched him a spot in Paris.
That means for the rest of the year, the focus will be on fine-tuning his game.
“I have to be composed on some attempts and understand and be more sure on each jump. Those are the technical adjustments that I need to do,’’ Obiena said.
He will have a lot of in-game opportunities to do that.
“I still have three more championships to compete this year and those are the big ones,’’ the world No. 3 pole vaulter said.
Obiena is set to compete in the Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, next week and the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, next month. After that, he will fly to Hangzhou, China, in September.
“These are still the goals. I need to perform well on those days,’’ said Obiena.
Obiena’s tuneup for the Asian championships at the Meeting International de Sotteville in Rouen, France, late Friday evening (Saturday morning in Manila) ended up with a silver finish behind Australia’s Kurtis Marschall.
The 6-foot-2 Asian record holder who is also No. 3 in the world cleared 5.72 meters (m), giving him a timely boost going into the continental championships where Obiena is scheduled to compete in the elimination phase on July 13 ahead of the July 16 finals.
Marschall came through with the gold in Rouen after hurdling 5.95m, which was way above the Olympic qualifying height of 5.82m to punch his own ticket to Paris in the process.
Obiena qualified for the Tokyo Olympics but finished 11th there.
“I fell short [in the last Olympics], so I want to win [in Paris]. It’s something I really want to do and I’m doing all I can. I’m obsessed with what I do and I think it’s a good thing,’’ said Obiena.