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After easy SEAG win, EJ’s next target is Tokyo Olympics

BY NICK GIONGCO

 

CAPAS, Tarlac – EJ Obiena, the newly-crowned Southeast Asian Games pole vault king, is dead-serious in making an impression in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  

EJ Obiena clears the 5.45-meter bar in easily winning the gold medal in pole vault on Saturday. (Mark Balmores)

EJ Obiena clears the 5.45-meter bar in easily winning the gold medal in pole vault on Saturday. (Mark Balmores)

The 6-foot-2 leaper, who reset the SEAG mark with a 5.45-meter job Saturday, is returning to Italy today to resume his training under renowned coach Vitaly Petrov.

“I am flying back,” said Obiena after winning his first SEAG gold medal.

Denied of a chance two years ago in Kuala Lumpur, Obiena was ecstatic when he got his before hometown fans at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium.

“It was a blast,” he said. “I really wanted that record.”

Thai Porranot Purahong had previously held it after a 5.35 that he did in Malaysia two years go.

Pulling it off was rather easy for Obiena, who even attempted to go further but failed to clear 5.55.

Last September in Europe, Obiena cleared 5.80 to automatically earn a berth in Tokyo, the first Filipino to make the Olympic grade.

Next up for Obiena is a stint in the Asian Indoors in Hangzhou, China, on Feb. 12 and 13 followed by the World Indoors in Nanjing, also in China, from March 13 to 15.

“The foundation training (in Italy) is crucial for me to get all the training that I can before the year ends. So we can start unloading earlier. Hopefully I will do a lot better than what I did today.”

For Obiena, Christmas this year will be unforgettable.

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