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At Only 25, EJ Obiena Can Now Call Himself Asia's Best Pole Vaulter—Ever 

Asia’s best pole vaulter is a Filipino. 
IMAGE JEROME ASCAÑO
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Filipino pole vaulter Ernest Obiena is on a mission to prove one loss does not define a career. Known to fans as EJ, the 25-year-old national champion has been resetting the Philippine national pole vault records since 2014, and is bouncing back better than ever after placing 11th at the Tokyo Olympics. 

Just a week after Obiena reset the Philippine national record with a 5.91-meter jump in Paris, Obiena took it even further by claiming Asia’s newest pole vault record. Obiena cleared 5.93 meters in the Austria meet, claiming first place at the 17th International Golden Roof Challenge, and beating the Asian record previously held by Kazakhstan’s retired pole vaulter Igor Potapovich since 1998. 

It’s been almost 30 years since anyone beat Potapovich’s 5.92-meter record, even by a centimeter, but Obiena accomplished it. 

Obiena failed to clear 5.93 meters on his first two attempts, but finally made it on his third attempt in a glorious roar of triumph that was captured on social media for all pole vaulting fans to see. 

“I fought for every centimeter of that,” said Obiena in his Instagram stories. “Thank you for all the love. [I] couldn’t have done this alone.”

Obiena not only reset the Asian record, but he also reset the Philippine record as well as his personal best. By resetting the national record—for the nth time—Obiena will be receiving a cash incentive from the Philippine Sports Commission once they certify his latest achievement. 

New Asian Record

With the new Asian record under his belt, Obiena is just seven centimeters away from clearing the coveted 6.0-meter mark. He’s also only just nine centimeters away from the Tokyo Olympics first place record, 6.02 meters, which was set by the world’s current number one, Swedish athlete Armand Duplantis. 

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As of the moment, Obiena is currently ranked the world's fifth best in pole vault, far ahead of his fellow Asian pole vaulters. So it's likely that the Filipino athlete will be holding the Asian record for a while, unless he resets it again.

New Philippine Record

The newest record is the latest in a long string of records already set by Obiena. The UST student has been resetting the Philippine national record plenty of times since he entered the scene that we’ve already lost count. 


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His latest record-breaking performances have been the following: 5.81 meters in Italy, 2019; 5.86 meters in Poland, 2021; 5.87 meters in Poland, 2021; 5.91 meters in Paris, 2021; and most recently, 5.93 meters in Austria, 2021.

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Anri Ichimura
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