The ace Thomasian pole vaulter EJ Obiena beat some of the world’s best in the 59th Ostrava Golden Spike Tournament in Czech Republic with a 5.74 meter jump in his first attempt on September 8.
The 24-year old Obiena, the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which has been re-scheduled for next year due to the COVID pandemic, won over the 2012 Olympics gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie of France who bagged silver, the 2017 World Champion Sam Kendricks from the USA who got bronze, and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz who ranked fourth.
“Thank you, God, for the long-awaited win. I offer this to Your given grace. Truly grateful for the gold medal win at the 59th Ostrava Golden Spike Tournament held at the Czech Republic, against the world’s bests in pole vault. Thank you, Philippines! Truly proud to represent you,” posted Obiena on social media.
Weeks later, on September 18, 2020, Obiena recorded his new season best of 5.80 meters and won bronze in the 2020 `Rome Diamond League.
The Rome competition is Obiena’s sixth podium finish in eight tournaments since he started his 2020 season in August 2020. He has ended his season with a total of one gold, two silver, and three bronze medals. This includes his third place finish at the 2020 Poznań Athletics Grand Prix at Poznań, Poland on September 12, 2020.
In September 2019, Obiena first set the Philippines’ new national record of 5.81 meters, still his personal best, by winning gold in Italy, making it his ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. He is an Electronics Engineering student of the Faculty of Engineering but is on official leave of absence to pursue his training in Italy.