Ernest John Obiena started out early and got the momentum he needed.
The 25-year-old Obiena was in the groove this time around when he cleared 5.85 meters on his third attempt, setting a new Philippine outdoor record and earning a gold medal in the Jump and Fly competition in Mossingen, Germany on Friday (Saturday, Manila time).
The Tokyo Olympics-bound Obiena got the momentum he needed to make the height after finding his rhythm while trying out a new and more rigid pole at a lower height.
“Mas maaga siyang tumalon. Kasi nakikita niya ang mga kalaban ay nagkakaproblema. Hindi sila nakakatawid,” said EJ’s dad Emerson after discussing with his son his latest achievement.
Oleg Zernickel, who won the German Championships last week by hitting and equalling the Olympic Qualification Standard at 5.8 meters, settled for the silver at 5.7 meters.
Philip Kass claimed the bronze in 5.4 meters.
With the feat, Obiena broke the Philippine national outdoor record, which he also held for two years when he vaulted to a height of 5.81 meters in Chiara, Italy.
He also owns the national indoor mark of 5.86 meters, which Obiena established last February at the Orlen Indoor meet in Lodz, Poland.
“Ang ginawa niya (EJ) ay nagsimula siya sa mas mababa, para maramdaman niya ang tawid at tigas ng kanyang pole,” revealed the elder Obiena.
The young Obiena first cleared 5.4 meters, before making it at 5.65 and 5.7 meters.
After hitting 5.85 meters, Obiena tried to go for 5.9 meters but missed all three attempts.
Obiena's gold medal finish in Germany came five days after his encounter with Swede Armand "Mondo" Duplantis of Sweden, who won the gold medal at the FBK Games at the Blankers-Koen Stadion in Hengelo, the Netherlands last weekend.
Back then, Obiena cleared 5.80 meters on his first attempt to earn second place and the silver medal, with Duplantis topping the meet at 6.10 meters.
With a month left before the Tokyo Olympics, Obiena’s Olympic rankings has slipped from 10th to 11th, a position he shares with German Torben Blech.