Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, a proud son of Tondo and one of the country’s best hopes for a medal in the modern Olympics, is slowly inching his way to the top.
A couple of months after a slew of victories in European tournaments and just days after his third-place finish in the World Athletics Championships in the US, Obiena rose to no. 3 in the men’s world rankings.
It was a fluid climb from the 6th spot, where he was two weeks ago with 1,369 points.
In the latest rankings posted by World Athletics on Thursday (Philippine time), Obiena now totes 1,048 points for third place, behind frontrunning Swedish world champion Armand Duplantis (1,612) and American Christopher Nilsen (1,435).
Duplantis, gold medalist in the Tokyo Olympics, topped the World Championships and Nilsen came in at second.
Obiena overtook training partner Thiago Braz of Brazil, KC Lightfoot and Sam Kendricks in the list.
With Obiena getting better in every tournament he joins in, he’s now at par with Nilsen as they both finished with a 5.94-meter leap in their most recent competition.
Duplantis’ 6.21 meters remains beyond reach by the rest of the field, but that is what Obiena is working on right now—to reach the 6-meter mark.
In the latest world competition, Obiena began using a stiffer pole, as advised by his coach Vitaly Petrov, enabling him to perform better.
“Coach said ‘the pole is too soft for you’, and that’s what we did. And it’s not the biggest pole I had in my life. But it’s good enough to jump 6.0 meters,” said Obiena in an interview.
After recovering from the Covid-19 virus last month, Obiena returned to his winning ways by securing the gold medal in the Taby Stavhoppsgala pole vault event in Sweden.
The 6’2” Obiena said he’s getting used to a lengthier, stiffer pole and expressed confidence that he will hold his ground when he returns to action in the Poland leg of the Diamond League and the Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix in Szekesfehervar in August.
Obiena, the Asian champion and record holder, has vowed on his social media post that “the best is yet to come.”