By Kristel Satumbaga
He may have fallen short of his goal, but Olympic pole vaulter EJ Obiena was glad to feel that competitive atmosphere since winning a gold for the country in last year’s SEA Games.
Obiena returned to competition Monday and clinched the silver medal in the 13th Triveneto Meet in Trieste, Italy – his first tournament since outbreak of the deadly coronavirus disease.
Obiena, the country’s first qualifier to the Tokyo Games which was rescheduled next year, cleared the height of 5.45 meters in his second and third attempt to settle for second behind 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil.
Braz, who happens to be one of Obiena’s training partners in a facility in Formia, leapt 5.50m while Max Mandusic of Italy came in third at 5.35m.
The change of routine from months of pure training has lifted the spirits of Obiena. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has altered the schedule of tournaments across the globe, but some events are slowly returning.
“It was definitely fun,” Obiena told Tempo. “Adrenaline finally kicked in and the feeling of competition is finally here again.”
Obiena said it wasn’t the result he hoped for, but was glad to shake off the rust after months of non-competition.
“I would say it isn’t bad, but was expecting a better result,” he said. “I faltered and made a lot of mistakes during the competition.”
Still, it gave him the chance to learn from his mistakes as he keeps his sights to the Olympics.
Up next for Obiena is the Virtual Battle of the Finest Pole Vaulter on Aug. 17 against former World Champion Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland and Matt Ludwig of the United States.