Jakarta—For Ernest John Obiena, the seven-month rehabilitation period and the intense training that came after, all come down to this — the Asian Games.
Obiena, fully healed from a torn ACL injury he sustained prior to the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, will be hoping to duplicate or surpass his 5.6 meters in the pole vault competitions of the Asian Games here today (Wednesday).
Obiena’s mark is just .05 shy of the the Asian Games’ record of 5.65 meters, set by Igor Potapovich of Kazakhstan 24 years ago in the Hiroshima, Japan Games.
During the 2014 Incheon Asiad, China’s Xue Changrui won the gold with 5.6 meters.
“EJ is in high spirits,” said his mother, Jeannete Obiena, an IAAF Level 1 Coaches Education Course Lecturer of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association. “He did 5.6 recently, which is very near sa games’ record.”
Only last June, Obiena cleared 5.45 meters at the Golden Spike of Ostrava and 5.51 meters in the International Stabboc Spring Meeting in Germany.
“EJ’s amazing performances bring him within striking distance of a podium finish at the Asiad,” said Patafa president Philip Ella Juico.
An IAAF scholar, Obiena was able to train in Formia, Italy under Vitaly Petrov, who was a coach of pole vault legend Sergei Bubka. Under Petrov, Obiena has improved by leaps and bounds, something he hopes to transform into a medal of any color in these games, where athletics has been empty-handed for the past 24 years.
Meanwhile, Marestella Torres-Sunang, after her 6.15 meters in the long jump here, is retiring but not before she makes one last leap in the 30th SEA Games the Philippines is hosting in November next year.
“It will be my final jump,” the 37-year-old Sunang said.
“I will end my career with a gold medal hanging from my neck,” Sunang vowed. “And I want to do it in front of Filipinos next year when we host the SEA Games.”