Filipino champion pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena has soared to the Top 10 of the World Rankings for Men’s Pole Vault of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), marking the first time for a Filipino to make the leaders list.
EJ Obiena racked a score of 1,277 in the world rankings released by the IAAF on September 17, 2019. Obiena is the only Filipino and the highest-ranking Asian pole vaulter on the list.
The Filipino pole vault gold medalist moved up to the 10th spot after his gold-winning performance at the Salto Con L’asta In Piazza Chiari 2019 in Italy on September 3 where he clinched the Olympic Standard to make him the first Filipino to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The 6-foot-2 pole vault athlete from the University of Santo Tomas cleared 5.81 meters in the Men’s Pole Vault competition in Chiari to surpass the Tokyo Olympics standard of 5.80 meters on his third and last attempt.
The 23 year-old Obiena has held the IAAF World Rankings Men’s Pole Vault Top 10 spot for two weeks now after steadily racking up points which moved him up from Top 15 standing in the August 20 edition of the IAAF rankings.
EJ Obiena has been scaling heights in pole vault competitions ever since he came back from nursing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in 2018 that nearly caused him to stop his athletics career.
The track star made multiple feats at the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships (AAC) held in April in Doha after clearing 5.71 meters to set his personal best, a Philippine national record, and erased the 26 year-old AAC record previously set in 1993 by Kazakhstan’s Grigoriy Yegorov.
The UST engineering student afterwards cleared the pole at 5.76 meters at the 2019 Summer Universiade held in July in Italy to claim the World University Champion title. It was the new Philippines national record, the new Southeast Asia record, and the new personal best for Obiena.
EJ Obiena shared to Good News Pilipinas that his achievements are not his alone.
“This really cannot be done, cannot be complete if it’s just me. It’s a bunch of people doing a little bit of everything to help me reach where I am now. So I’m thankful for them. I wouldn’t be here without them,” the Filipino pole vault champion said.
Asked how he is preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Obiena said it’s all about focus.
“I’m taking it step by step right now. I’m focusing on my upcoming competition which is the World Championships. After that I’ll be focusing on the SEA Games. It’s one competition at a time.”
EJ Obiena will next compete at the 2019 World Athletics Championship from September 27 to October 6 in Doha, Qatar before he returns to the Philippines for the 30th South East Asian Games scheduled from November 30 to December 11, 2019.
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