EJ Obiena Opens 2023 Indoor Season With a Gold Medal in France
Filipino pole vault star EJ Obiena has bagged his first gold of the 2023 indoor pole vault season as he took home top honors at the Perche En Or in Roubaix, France on Sunday, January 29.
The Asian record holder, who is ranked number three worldwide, cleared 5.82 meters in his first attempt and went on to clear 5.90 meters thrice. He edged out Jie Yao from China, who had cleared 5.75 meters, after three 5.82-meter attempts. French national Ethan Cormont, on the other hand, ranked third after clearing 5.65 meters.
The competitors at the Perche En Or meet are part of the 2023 World Athletics Indoor Tour Challenger subgroup. On January 26, Obiena opened the season with a silver medal at the International Springer Meeting in Cottbus, Germany, with a 5.77-meter jump.
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Possibly up next for the 27-year-old pole vault sensation is the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland on February 8 and the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais in Lievin, France on February 15. The World Indoor Tour Gold Madrid is on February 22.
As it stands, Obiena's record for the indoor pole vault competition is at 5.91 meters.
The Esquire Philippines November 2022 cover star and Athlete of the Year is currently training with world-renowned coach Vitaly Petrov in Italy. It's where he's surrently staying to prepare for the Paris Olympics next year. We are now in what Obiena describes as the "golden age" of Philippine sports, after all. He looks to become just the second Filipino in history to take home an Olympic gold medal after Hidilyn Diaz did in 2021.
"Pressure is privilege, therefore I just use that as fuel to keep pushing, keep driving, and keep doing what I do. Representing the 109 million Filipinos is definitely big. Representing Asia is even bigger, which is better for me," he said during his November interview.