Ernest John Obiena practically didn’t have time to savor and celebrate his triumph at the 2021 Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck Austria on Saturday as he was slated to compete at the ISTAF (International Stadionfest) in Berlin, Germany Sunday evening (2 a.m. in Manila).
“We are hoping for another outstanding performance (from Obiena),” said Philip Juico, president of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association on Sunday, after the Filipino pole vaulter finally overcame technical challenges in reaching a higher height.
Wielding a new 5.1-meter pole, Obiena set a new personal best and Philippine record for the fourth time in two years, while eclipsing a 29-year-old Asian record as well.
In doing so, Obiena breached the 5.9-meter barrier againn as he cleared 5.93 meters at the Austrian tourney, which he ruled.
In the process, Obiena smashed the Asian record of 5.92 meters set by Igor Potapovich of Kazakhstan in June 1992 in France.
It marked the second time that the 25-year-old Obiena has gone past the 5.9-meter range with his rigid pole.
Adjustments on the number of strides that he was to take when reaching his takeoff point is now working well for the 6’2” Obiena, who is taking to heart the instructions from his coach Vitaly Petrov and advice from his dad Emerson.
“The outstanding improvement in Obiena’s performance is certainly due also to the technical adjustments made by coach Vitaly and executed by Obiena. Even minor and subtle adjustments, unnoticed by ordinary laymen like us, can become a game changer and turning point at the highest level of a very technical and dangerous event like pole vault,” said Juico.
Obiena last went past past 5.9 meters when he made 5.91 meters during the Paris leg of the Diamond League on August 28.
“These changes make a big difference in an individual event like pole vault. You can only depend on yourself and on no one else’s execution of that person’s role as is the case in team sports. We believe Obiena is working towards consistency in his performance and a more robust mental toughness plan of action,” added Juico.
American Matt Ludwig placed second at 5.60 meters, while Turkey’s Ersu Sasma settled for third, after reaching the same height, but in two tries.
Juico also thanked the Philippine Sports Commission for its continuous support to Obiena.
“I would also like to cite the continuing substantial financial and administrative and moral support, of the Philippine Sports Commission and Chairman Butch Ramirez and the PSC Commissioners. The PSC has been readily extending over the past five years all these assistance despite being confronted by its own challenges and by uninformed critics,” said Juico.
Encouraged by fans watching him, Obiena took long and fast strides as he ran and placed the pole at a perfect angle. And with a smooth takeoff into the air, he cleared the bar for the neat landing.
“I wanted this one so bad. I couldn’t have done it without all of you guys,” said Obiena in his message to well-wishers.