Obiena sets new Asian mark

ERNEST John Obiena soared where no Asian had ever gone before with a jump of 5.93 meters to reign supreme in the men’s pole vault event of the Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria early yesterday morning (Sunday night in Europe).

Encouraged by a banner evening crowd at the Maria-Theresien-Strasse plaza, Obiena raised his bar of excellence on his third and last try in the wee hours of the morning in the Philippines, while majority of his countrymen were still asleep.

From a picture-perfect takeoff, he easily cleared the bar but grazed it going down, the upright shaking slightly but stayed in place, as he smashed the 29-yearrecord of 5.92 meters set by Igor Potapovich of Kazakhstan on June 13, 1992 in Dijon, France.

Obiena raised his hands to the heavens as he landed on the mat, then pointed to the Austrian gallery in gratitude for staying behind to witness his historic feat.

“Thank you for all the love. I couldn’t have done it alone, thanks to all of you from the bottom of my heart,” he said after his jump held under a clear evening sky. “Thank you, Innsbruck, Thank you. I fought for every centimeter of that.”

The Tokyo Olympic Games veteran also reset by two centimeters his national mark of 5.91 meters when he finished runner-up in the Diamond League leg at the Charlety Stadium in Paris, France last Aug. 29.

American Matt Ludwig settled for second with a jump of 5.60 meters, relegating Turkish Ersu Sasma to third via the countback.

“Sumigaw kami nuong ma-break ni EJ ‘yung Asian record sa huling talon niya. Nabulabog yata ‘yungaming kapitbahay,” said Obiena’s father-coach, Emerson, who stayed up late together with his wife, Jeannette, to witness their son’s feat on video streaming live
“Congratulations are in order for EJ Obiena for breaking the Asian record at the Golden Roof tournament in Innsbruck, Austria this morning,” an elated athletics chief Philip Ella Juico said in a statement.

Juico readily acknowledged the Philippine Sports Commission and PSC chairman Butch Ramirez for “readily extending all these assistance in the past five years despite being confronted by its own challenges and uninformed critics” for supporting the athlete’s training and campaigns.

“The outstanding improvement in Obiena’s performance is certainly also dueto the technical adjustments made by coach Vitaly Petrov and executed by Obiena,” added the PSC chief in citing famed the Ukrainian mentor, who also handled former world and Olympic champion Sergey Bubka.

The elder Obiena observed that in the absence of Petrov, his son consulted his fellow athletes as well some coaches of the other pole vaulters who were present before making his attempts.

As the last man standing, the 6-foot-2 beanpole, who had skipped the 5.70-meter mark, had sealed the deal when he cleared 5.80 meters on his first try before making his assault at the height of 5.93 meters.

“Nakita po namin na bumalik siya sa old pole niya after the first two tries at 5.93 meters,” the elder Obiena noted. “Ginamit niya dating pole niya sa huling talon at mabuti at na-clear naman.”

He said that he and his wife had no time to talk to his son since he was off after the event, driving eight hours for 750.6 kilometers to Berlin, Germany for the ISTAF Berlin meet set early today (Sunday in Europe) at the Berlin Stadium.

Date: September 13, 2021 | By: Bong Pedralvez | Newspaper: Malaya | Source: