This time around, Tokyo Olympics-bound Ernest John “EJ” Obiena will not be alone when he competes in the men’s pole of the Internationales Stadionfest in Berlin.
Obiena’s coach Vitaly Petrov will accompany him this Friday in his stint in the world’s biggest indoor track and field tournament.
The 24-year-old Obiena, who set a new national record last Friday, went to Berlin early with Petrov, coach of the world’s greatest pole vault athteles, including legends and former world champions Sergey Bubka, Yelena Isinbayeva and Giuseppe Gibilisco, to get ready for his event, which will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
The disciplines to be played include the 60m sprint, hurdles, pole vault, long jump and discus throw.
Last week, Obiena was all by himself when he saw action in the 2021 Karlsruhe Indoor meet.
Obiena was not allowed to have a companion or a coach because of coronavirus protocols and restrictions.
But he still had a great start to his 2021 campaign at Europahalle where Obiena set a new Philippine indoor mark after clearing 5.62 meters to finish fifth in the competition.
“Siyempre, he will be aiming higher (in Berlin). Pero, iyun lang nagawa niya nu’ng time na iyun (in Karlsruhe),” said EJ’s dad Emerson.
The young Obiena’s feat shattered a previous national mark he made at 5.43 meters back in 2019 at the International Pole Vault Meeting in Potsdam, Germany.
But even without Petrov around, Obiena was still able to perform flawlessly on three attempts at the heights of 5.32 meters, 5.47 meters, and in his final try at 5.62.
He was able to do everything in one go, according to the elder Obiena when he reviewed EJ’s performance, after an online discussion with his son early this week.
“Consistent na siya sa mga height na iyun. Nakukuha niya nang malinis hanggang sa 5.52 meters. Tamang-tama at nandu’n na si coach Vitaly. Mako-correct na niya iyung mga errors na na-commit niya sa Karlsruhe,” said the elder Obiena.
In Karlsruhe, Renand Lavillenie of France, who is the London 2012 Olympic champion, won the event with just three, first-time clearances at 5.62, 5.80 and then 5.88m before rounding off with a first time success at 5.95m.
Rivals Matt Ludwig and Cole Walsh of the United States settled for second and third with clearances of 5.8 and 5.72 meters.
Walsh took third on a better countback over Torben Blech of Germany.
Since Obiena took the 5.62 meters in a just one try, German rival Raphael Holzdeppe and Valentin Lavellenie settled for sixth and seventh following a tie with the Filipino athlete.