Going up in the world rankings and being at no. 3 have finally sunk in for Filipino pole vault star Ernest John “EJ” Obiena.
But to stay there and go even higher would mean a lot of hard work for the 26-year-old Obiena.
This is what Obiena will be doing as he competes in the Gyulai Istvan Memorial 2022, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold Level Meeting at the athletics stadium in Szekesfehervar, Hungary.
“Yes, definitely, it has already sunk in. And I got over it already. The honors have been appreciated. I’m blessed to do this,” said Obiena before the competition got under way.
The 6’2” Obiena will once again take on the world’s best pole vaulter, Armand “Mondo” Duplantis and American Chris Nilsen, who are in no. 1 and 2 in the world rankings.
The Filipino star is trying to stay within distance in ranking points with Duplantis, who broke another meet record with a successful jump of 6.10 meters for the gold on Saturday in the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial.
This came after Duplantis made 6.21 meters in two tries for a new world record and the gold last month in the 2022 World Athletics Championships at the Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Because of this and Duplantis’ string of eight straight championships won this season, the Swede solidified his hold on no. 1 with a seemingly unreachable 1612 points.
Nilsen follows in second with eight golds and two silvers won in 12 events that he joined since the start of the European outdoor season, earning him 1435 points.
As for Obiena, he has entered in eight outdoor competitions, which yielded him four golds and three bronze medals for a total of 1408 points at third place in the World Athletics rankings.
Obiena moved ahead of Rio Olympics gold medallist Thiago Braz, who is now in fourth with 1386 points.
American Sam Kendricks, the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, dropped to fifth with 1371 points, after missing a lot of meets early this year due to injury.
“There’s a very short time celebrate this (bronze medal wins). The world’s top pole vaulter Mondo has again broken the world, and now it’s back to the office (for me) and to keep working hard,” added Obiena.
So far, Obiena will have good chance of catching up with Nilsen, since he is closer to the 24-year-old Nilsen in terms of points.