EJ Obiena has once again made history by capturing the Philippines’ very first pole vault medal at the World Athletics Championships.
Last July 24, Obiena proudly seized the bronze medal at the World pole vaulting finals in Oregon, USA by posting a personal best score of 5.94 meters. The successful jump, which was cleared on Obiena’s second attempt, is a 1-cm improvement on the Asian and national record that he himself had set at the Golden Roof Challenge in Austria the previous year.
The shining achievement comes as a personal victory after Obiena’s absence in the World Indoors Athletic Championships in Serbia last March, when the Philippines Track and Field Association (PATAFA) failed to endorse Obiena to the competition. Even before winning the bronze medal, Obiena penned a Facebook post detailing his gratefulness for now being able to compete at the pole vault finals:
“Normally, I only get to thank people when I win. Well, for me, being here in Eugene, [Oregon] set to compete in the final of [the] World Championships is already a big win,” wrote Obiena.
“After all of the things that have happened; from missing my supposed-to-be first World Indoor Championship earlier this year; to contracting COVID-19 a few weeks back, WE ARE HERE. With this, I want to thank my team and the people who have made this possible. First and foremost I want to thank my coach, Vitaly Petrov, and staff, @gugliettaantonio and @nikviscu44; to my legal team from Gana Atienza Avisado Law Offices; to NLS consulting group; to my good friends and mentors @jamesmichaellafferty and @carolkaylafferty and family; to the sports governing bodies of the Philippines; to my sponsors and CKSC alumni who are getting me [through] this rough patch; to people behind the curtains (you know who you are), and most importantly, my fellow countrymen and my country, [the] Philippines, for this opportunity. There are not many people that have experienced what I had, and I will forever remember and bring this with me to wherever this journey may be.
“I started this journey with my family, and now I have a team that I could only have dreamed of and a strong nation behind me. Maraming Salamat po,” continued Obiena.
The world no. 6 ended his historic podium finish under reigning Olympic champion Armand Duplantis (Sweden) and reigning Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen (USA). Duplantis, who won the event, also broke the world record with a staggering height of 6.21 meters. Meanwhile, Nilsen won the silver medal after clearing the same height of 5.94 meters that Obiena had posted but with only one attempt.
Following the momentous occasion, Obiena proudly declared the Philippines as the best in Asia for the pole vaulting sport. But this is only the beginning.
“2022 World Athletics Championships. [The] Philippines is the best in Asia for pole vault. And 3rd best in the world,” wrote Obiena in another Facebook post.
Wittily acknowledging the bright blue Cookie Monster-themed socks that brought him to victory, Obiena continued: “EJ is hungry for more cookie. The best is yet to come.”