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article imageChatting with Ernest 'EJ' Obiena: World-class pole vaulter Special

By Markos Papadatos     Aug 22, 2020 in Sports
World-class pole vaulter Filipino pole vaulter Ernest "EJ" Obiena chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos while quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, he competed in an international sports competition wearing a safety mask (to protect against the Coronavirus). The live-streamed, virtual and global competition is hosted by Fine Hygienic Holding (FHH), which is one of the world's leading wellness groups and manufacturers of hygienic paper products. He competed alongside such elite pole vaulters as American athlete Matt Ludwig, Polish pole vaulter PaweĊ‚ Wojciechowski, and Olympic gold medalist Thiago Braz, who he trains with every day.
Obiena finished in second place with a clearance of 5.60 meters, right behind Thiago Braz who had cleared 5.70 meters. "That felt pretty good. It was something new, a different meet, and it was fun," he said.
Speaking of Thiago Braz, Obiena had nothing but the greatest remarks about him. "Thiago is good. It is always fun to train with an Olympic champion. There are some advantages and disadvantages to that, but mostly, advantages," he said.
"Thiago is fun and he's a really good guy. To be honest, I've trained with him for a long time, so I've known him even before he was an Olympic champion. Thiago is the same humble person before and after his win at the Olympics," he added.
On life in quarantine, Obiena said, "It is going okay. I'm trying to maintain consistency and maximize what I have."
He spoke about the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021. "That was a big hit," he admitted. "When the Olympic Games got postponed, I asked myself 'what now?' I am far from home and my family, I am not training in my backyard. It is good that competitions are starting and there are some schedules these days."
On being a pole vaulter in the digital age, he said, "It's cool. I studied electronic engineering so I am really into technology. I'm trying to have fun with it. This time around, we used technology and what we have so that we can compete with the other athletes around the world and it's fun."
In training and practice, he shared that he uses video analysis, and sometimes, they may even use GoPro for fun purposes. "You can put the GoPros anywhere because they are tiny," he said.
He is drawn to the sport of pole vault due to the technicality of the event. "Pole vault is so technical and there is always room to improve," he said. "There are so many things to work on but at the same time, the more things you work on, the more you will improve. That's something that I love about the sport."
Obiena's personal best of 5.81 meters is a national record for The Philippines. He won the gold medal at the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, with a clearance of 5.71 meters.
For young and aspiring pole vaulters, he encouraged them to persevere. "Just be patient and just stick with it. If you trust your coach, you will go a long way. Pole vaulting is a very technical sport, it takes time but it will come," he said.
Regarding the title of the current chapter of his life, he said, "Knowing myself and introducing myself to the world stage."
He defined the word success as "being able to do what you set out to do." "Success in life is contentment," he said.
To learn more about Filipino pole vaulter Ernest "EJ" Obiena, follow him on Instagram, and check out his official website.
Filipino pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena
Filipino pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena
EJ Obiena
More about Ernest Obiena, EJ Obiena, pole vaulter, The Philippines, Filipino
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