Editor’s Note: This article has been updated in order to fix a mistake in the headline.
Filipino athlete Ernest John “EJ” Obiena has set a new pole vaulting Asian record after winning a gold medal at the 2021 Golden Roof Challenge in Austria on Sept. 11.
Record-breaking jump: Obiena had already secured his win after jumping 5.80 meters (19 feet) on his first run, but the 25-year-old athlete pushed the score further with a third and final jump of 5.93 meters (19.4 feet), breaking the record, according to Olympics news.
- The athlete shattered Kazakhstan’s Igor Potapovich’s 1992 record of 5.92 meters, ESPN reported. Obiena also broke his personal best and national record last month at the Paris Diamond League.
- President of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association Philip Ella Juico said in a statement, “Congratulations are in order to EJ Obiena for breaking at the Golden Roof tournament in Innsbruck, both the heretofore long-standing, 29-year-old Asian record of 5.92 meters established by Igor Potapovich of Kazakhstan in Dijon, France and the Philippine record which Obiena broke and four times over the past two years.”
- According to Rappler, Obiena told reporters, “I wanted this one so bad. I couldn’t have done it without all of you guys.”
- American pole vaulter Matt Ludwig and Ersu Sasma of Turkey took home silver and bronze, respectively.
Who is EJ Obiena: The athlete was born in Tondo, Manila, to former pole vaulter Emerson and hurdler Jeanette Obiena on Nov. 17, 1995, according to the Manila Times.
- His father, Emerson, told the Manila Times in 2019 that Obiena showed interest in pole vaulting when he was 3. Obiena began his athletic journey as a hurdler in high school when he competed in the 100 and 400 meters at Chiang Kai Shek College and the University of Santo Tomas.
- He earned a scholarship to train under Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov in Formia, Italy at 19 after breaking Filipino-American Edward Lasquete’s 5-meter record.
- He is not the only record holder in the family. His sister, Emily, was also a national junior record holder in pole vaulting.