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How Did Ernest John Obiena Defy Gravity and Vault into the Elite 6-Metre Club? A First for any Filipino and Asian!

Ernest John Obiena Defy Elite 6-Metre Club
From Dream to Reality: How Did Ernest John Obiena Break One of Athletics’ Most Exclusive Clubs While Resetting 3 Pole Vault Records? SEA Games photo from EJ Obiena social media, credit to Paolo Del Rosario.

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to literally reach new heights? Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, the 27-year-old Filipino Olympian, can now answer this question with first-hand experience. He has become the latest member of the pole vault six-metre club – an exclusive group of athletes worldwide that have managed to scale one of the most elusive barriers in elite athletics. But what makes Obiena’s feat particularly notable?

Obiena didn’t just join the club; he vaulted into the record books. At the Bergen Jump Challenge in Bryggen, Norway, on June 10, 2023, he made an electrifying first attempt at 6.00m, clearing it to set new records. This triumphant jump broke three records at once: the Asian record of 5.94m that Obiena himself set at the World Championships in Oregon last year, the Philippines’ national record, and his own Personal Best record.

Describing the moment on his social media, Obiena wrote, “It took a few moments to sink in. But when it did, tears began to fall,” Obiena revealed in an emotional social media post, adding, “Just happy and proud to be part of the 6m Club.” Obiena also credited his coach Vitaliy Petrov with whom he shared the dream of being the first Asian and Filipino to go over the barrier. “There was no greater shoulder to cry on than my coach, Vitaliy. Couldn’t have done it without you,” he added.

The six-metre club now boasts 28 members, including Olympic champions and world title holders, with different nationalities from all six continental areas of the sport. Obiena’s feat has placed Asia in this exclusive club for the first time.

Throughout the competition, World No. 3 EJ Obiena showcased his determination. Entering the competition at 5.53m, he needed two attempts to clear the opening height. As the competition continued, he strategically passed at certain heights, saving his energy and focus for a run at history. His successful attempt at 6.00m not only made him the newest member of the 6-metre club but also earned him the gold medal win ahead of the USA’s KC Lightfoot.

Obiena won the gold medal over fellow 6-metre club members from the U.S., KC Lightfoot and Sam Kendricks. world Athletics website screenshot.

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s Dyan Castillejo, the Southeast Asian Games gold medalist shared his emotions, “I was waiting for my body to hit the bar. I was like: ‘I’m gonna hit this’, then just like: ‘Wait, I’m not hitting it!’ And then the moment I landed, it took some time to sink in.”

Obiena’s achievement, a dream come true for him, represents a significant step forward for Asian athletes in pole vaulting. Yet, his coach, Vitaliy Petrov, reminds him and us that there is still much work to be done.

Obiena will continue his athletic journey at the Oslo Bislett Games on June 15 and the Stockholm Diamond League on July 2. As the world watches this rising star break barriers, we are left wondering: what other records will Ernest John “EJ” Obiena shatter in his pole-vaulting journey? As the first Filipino and Asian to join the 6-metre club, he’s already proved that the sky’s the limit.

WATCH EJ Obiena’s historic record-breaking and gold-winning pole vault here and SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below!

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Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.

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