Ernest John “EJ” Obiena is counting his blessings.
The 24-year-old pole vaulter from Philippines said he will now have more time to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics in August next year.
Obiena said he now has more time to train and more opportunities to adjust his moves to when competitions in the international athletics scene finally resume by August.
“It's in a way, a blessing in disguise. I have time to build up again, work on my weaknesses and work on certain groups of muscles with specific training,” said Obiena.
Obiena discussed online his ongoing training and preparations via video conferencing on Google Meet, while still in lockdown in Formia, Italy.
Italy is one of the many countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Luckily for Obiena, he is currently based in the city of Formia, a seaside town located between Rome and Naples. Formia was not heavily affected by the pandemic.
Instead of preparing for the Olympics, Obiena is getting ready to join the Diamond League.
The International Association of Athetics Federations has given the green light to allow many athletics meets to resume this August.
The Diamond League is an annual series of elite competitions, that will have 15 one-day competitions.
And Obiena and his coaches will still have to find which ones to put on their schedule.
After joining the Diamond League, Obiena will prepare for the World Indoor Athletics meet, which will still be held in Nanjing, China.
Because of the pandemic, the indoor meet was postponed last March.
Due to the lockdown imposed in Italy, Obiena had to scale down on his training program for the coming Tokyo Olympics.
At first, he had to do light workouts, but with competitions about to begin again, Obiena's workouts are expected to intensify once more.
Obiena is among a few select Olympic-bound athletes who have been allowed to continue training in the Italy, but up to this day, they are not allowed to leave their quarters.
“Hindi pa rin open ang borders, pero mas maluwag na ngayon. Pero, di pa kami pinapayagan na tumawid ng border,” said Obiena, the first Filipino to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
He secured a berth in the 2020 Summer Olympics by surpassing the qualifying standard of 5.80 meters by making a 5.81 in a tournament in Chiara, Italy in September 3, 2019.
His feat set a new national record at that time.
Obiena is coached by Ukrainian pole vaulter Vitaly Petrov, who is known for mentoring world champions like Sergey Bubka, Yelena Isinbayeva and Giuseppe Gibilisco.
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