Obiena joins virtual tourney

With tourneys still limited due to the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, EJ Obiena is looking to join in a virtual tourney to sharpen his skills heading into the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Obiena, the first Filipino to qualify in the Summer Games, said he is looking forward to this unique competition where he gets to test his skills against the best vaulters in the world right in the comfort of their respective training grounds.

Olympians Pawel Wojciechowskie of Poland and Matt Ludwig of the United States are two of the biggest names to confirm their participation.

The 31-year-old Wojciechowskie is No. 8 in the world with a personal best of 5.93 meters registered in a tournament in Lausanne in 2017 while Ludwig is at No. 29 with a career high 5.90 meters tallied early this year in Mexico City, where he emerged as the American indoor pole vault champion.

Obiena, the 24-year-old former University of Santo Tomas star, is at No. 16 with a personal best of 5.81 meters that served as his ticket to the Olympics last year.

Although there would be no spectators, Obiena said he is very excited because he wants to feel the rush of competition again after more than five months of training in isolation at the International Amateur Athletics Federation training center in Formia, Italy.

Aside from that, it would be a good preparation for him before heading to the elite Diamond League next month and the Summer Games next year.

“Right now, people really want sports. I think it would really be a great idea and a good collaboration with other vaulters,” said Obiena, referring to the “backyard tourney” that was inspired by the successful Ultimate Garden Clash pole vault event last month where Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece emerged victorious.

“The essence of people watching us online will give us this kind of pressure that I need to train well and be prepared.”

Obiena admitted that the global pandemic discouraged organizers, sponsors and even the world body from staging pre-Olympic tourneys so he would give his best in any kind of battle — regardless if it’s virtual or in the real world.

“It’s really hard to train without any sense of direction so having competitions like this can really help us be motivated again,” he said.

“This helps us to be motivated and prepared for the official competitions ahead.”

“Seeing it, you want to be ready and become prepared. At the end of the day, everybody will be watching you around the world so you wouldn’t want to lose.”

Date: July 30, 2020 | By: Ian Suyu | Newspaper: Tribune | Source: