ERNEST JOHN “EJ” OBIENA returns to action on Saturday in the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial—ninth leg of the Diamond League—at the Stadion Slaski in Chorzow, Poland, under two weeks after he bagged a historic bronze at the world championships in Oregon.
Obiena told BusinessMirror on Friday that he’s prepared to achieve greater height in his pole vaulting journey.
“I have been training since I returned here in Formia [Italy]. I am here in Poland to achieve a greater height in my pole vault journey,” said the 26-year-old Obiena who also reset his Asian men’s record with a 5.94-meter leap at the Eugene worlds.
The two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist said Chorzow won’t not be an easy task.
“It’s going to be a star-studded line-up. I will again try,” said Obiena of the Poland event where he aims to achieve the so-called Holy Grail of pole vaulting—clear 6.0 meters “I believe everything is still doable and possible or should I say bound to happen when it comes to the competition.”
World record holder Armand Duplantis, Rio 2016 Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz da Silva and American Christopher Nilsen are on the star-studded roster in Chorzow.
Obiena thanked his trainer, legendary Ukranian Vitaly Petrov, for keeping him even though there’s no longer in the employ of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) following the non-renewal of his contract with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.
“I am very, very appreciative of my long-time trainer, it’s a very selfless act. He is assisting me up to now,” Obiena said. “I cannot imagine myself without him on my side. I cannot do this without Vitaly. More than half of that bronze in the worlds is because of him.”
Petrov was Brazil and China’s official trainer in Eugene, but attended to Obiena once in a while.
“He’s very happy at first, but he reminded me there’s a lot of things to do and there’s a lot of things to change,” Obiena said.
The Tokyo Olympian Obiena will proceed to Hungary for the Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix in Szekesfehervar on Monday where he’ll again face the world’s elite.
“All those champions will be present again in Hungary,” Obiena said.
Image credits: AP