What prolonged break?
EJ Obiena, the world No. 2 pole vaulter, continues to work even while in an extended athletics offseason, keeping himself in shape by cross-training in tennis and even gymnastics.
But he is also diving into a bigger undertaking.
“The Philippines is home to incredible and dedicated athletes, yet their full potential and dreams often go unrealized due to limited facilities, support and media coverage,’’ said Obiena.
Just over the weekend, the Asian Games champion completed another fundraiser where the apparel he used in his tournaments was auctioned off in individual items, the proceeds of which will be used to provide opportunities for young pole vaulters to be like him someday.
“I started out as this scrawny kid from Tondo and got the opportunity to train under a great coach with great athletes in a great environment,’’ said Obiena.
Pole vault maestro
The son of former pole vaulter Emerson Obiena caught his break when he trained in Formia, Italy, nearly a decade ago under renowned Ukrainian pole vault maestro Vitaly Petrov.
Obiena took the silver medal in the World Championships in Hungary this year after a bronze medal in the United States edition in 2022.
The 28-year-old ace has already won the Southeast Asian Games thrice, the Asian championships twice and broke his own record all the way up to 6 meters countless times.
The two-time Olympian collected numerous victories in the European circuit, including defeating world No. 1 and champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden, projected as his archnemesis in the coming Paris Olympics, once in the Diamond League.
According to Obiena, the contributions from his auctioned personal items will play an important role in securing funding for a dedicated training facility as well as providing much-needed support to young and promising pole vaulters. INQ