Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, the Filipino pole vault marvel, is not just reaching for the sky – he’s punctuating it. Recently grabbing second place at the Wanda Diamond League Pole Vault Final, he’s skyrocketed to World No. 2 status—making him not just a Filipino sensation but Asia’s most formidable track and field athlete.
The Philippines’ Obiena again challenged and finished just next to the World No. 1 in the Prefontaine Classic held in Oregon, USA, reminiscent of their first and second placements at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest. Obiena is now heading to the 19th edition of the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, as the region’s overall top-ranked athlete.
Soaring in the Diamond League
In a gravity-defying feat, EJ Obiena of Tondo, Manila, soared through the air to clear 5.82 meters in just two attempts. The electrifying performance landed him just behind the world champion, Armand Duplantis of Sweden. Both athletes were the only ones in the seven-finalist field to reach the towering height. Duplantis edged out Obiena by clearing the bar in a single try and went on to 6.23m to smash his own world record.
Before conquering the 5.82m mark, Obiena effortlessly cleared 5.62m in a single attempt. He even ventured to push the envelope further by attempting a colossal 6.02m jump—a height that, had he succeeded, would have shattered his own personal and seasonal records. His daring spirit and relentless tenacity mark him as an extraordinary entrant into the elite 6-Metre Club.
While the other finalists’ performances were commendable, it was clear that Obiena was in a league of his own. The Filipino pole vault champion amassed enough points in the Diamond League series, showcasing amazing performances to finish 2nd in Monaco, 3rd in Oslo, and 3rd in Brussels, to be Duplantis’ main challenger at the grand finale held on September 17 in Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon, USA.
A Filipino Star Ascending
As of September 19th, World Athletics’ rankings have catapulted EJ Obiena to the position of World No. 2 in Men’s Pole Vault. It’s a feat that echoes his overtaking of America’s Christopher Nielsen last July, crowning the 27-year-old as the main contender in the pole vault category for the Asian Games.
Obiena scored 1443 points to surpass Nielsen’s 1431 points in the world ranking which comes at the heels of the Filipino pole vault champion’s strong podium finishes in his last four events, including his double gold victories in Germany. This season is Obiena’s best, having placed in the top 3 in 15 of the 16 events where he competed.
Unmatched in Asia
What’s more intriguing is that World Athletics rankings also knighted Obiena as Asia’s Overall No. 1 Track & Field Male Athlete. He holds the area record for Asia with a leap of 6.0 meters, a feat he achieved at the World Championships in Budapest. Obiena is not just a Filipino treasure; he’s a continental trailblazer poised for gold at the Asian Games.
See below how the Philippines’ EJ Obiena ranked against the world’s and Asia’s best athletes:
Filipino EJ Obiena fresh off his 2nd place finish at @Diamond_League is competing at the 2023 Asian Games newly named as World No. 2 in Men's Pole Vault and Asia's No. 1 Overall Track & Field Athlete @ejobienapv @19thAGofficial @WorldAthletics Full story on @GoodNewsPinas_ pic.twitter.com/htAF3nmRgN
— Angie Quadra Balibay (@AngieQBalibay) September 22, 2023
Waving the Flag
In his social media post, EJ Obiena expresses his view of his new ranking as Asia’s top athlete:
“Many people clap me on the back for being Asia’s number one track and field athlete. I view this differently.
It’s a huge sense of honor and responsibility. In my profession, I am a visible symbol of the best from the amazing continent of Asia. And I must not let Asia down. I must go into these international competitions and showcase the talent and capability of us all. I must also conduct myself with honor and dignity and never tarnish the greatness of Asia.
I accept this mantle of leadership but I accept it with honor, pride, and an enormous sense of responsibility.”
And if you’re already swelling with pride, here’s the cherry on top: EJ Obiena will share flag-bearing duties with Asia’s champion skater Margielyn Didal as the Philippines marches into the Asian Games, set to officially kick off on September 23.
WATCH EJ Obiena at the Wanda Diamond League Final as he vaults towards a glorious entrance into the Asian Games! SHARE THIS ARTICLE to celebrate a Filipino athlete who’s not just raising the bar, but smashing records while he’s at it. Let’s unite to cheer on Asia’s No. 1 Track & Field Male Athlete as he represents the Philippines on the world stage.
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