GOLDEN Spike men’s pole vault champion Ernest John Obiena will have at least three, possibly four, more competitions this month before winding up his season and recharging for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year.
Fresh from his triumph in Ostrava, Czech Republic last Wednesday, the Olympic-bound pole vaulter will compete next in the Poznan Athletic Grand Prix in Poznan, Poland where he is expected to collide with hometown bet and reigning European indoor champion Pavel Wojciechowski.
Wojciechowski has played second fiddle to Obiena in their last three head-to-head clashes, including the Golden Spike event where he finished sixth with a jump of 5.34 meters behind the Filipino’s medal-clinching jump of 5.74 meters, a season best.
The Polish bet cannot be overlooked since he had a personal best of 5.90 meters when he ruled the 2019 European indoor championships in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Like I told EJ after he won (in Ostrava), anybody can win on any given day kung 10 to 20 centimeters ‘yong difference, puwedeng bumaliktad ang situwasyon. Lagin may upset diyan,” Obiena’s father-coach, Emerson, said as he reminded his son not to be lulled into complacency.
Action is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. (10 p.m. Manila time) today.
After Poland, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association posted on its Facebook page that Obiena’s next competition will be on Sept. 13 in the ISTAF (Internationales Stadionfest) at the Berlin Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany.
The World Athletics Continental Tour silver event has drawn another crack cast in the men’s pole vault event bannered by Swedish-American start Armand Duplantis, who holds the world record of 6.18 meters, and two-time world champion Sam Kendricks of the US.
Brazilian Rio Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz and former German world champion Raphael Holzdeppe, who cleared 5.64 and 5.54 meters to place fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Golden Spike event, are also set to compete in the German capital.
They will see action in the 75,000-seat venue where American track legend Jesse Owens bagged four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
Four days after the Berlin competition, Obiena is expected to spring into action anew in his second appearance this season in the Diamond League athletic series in Rome, Italy for the Pietro Mennea Golden Gala meet at the Stadio Olimpico, site of the opening of the 1960 Tokyo Olympics.
The athletic showcase is just 166.7 kilometers or a two-hour drive from Obiena’s home base at the World Athletics elite training camp in the seaport city of Formia where he has been training with Braz since January under veteran Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov.
Obiena’s last event is supposed to be Doha leg of the Diamond League on Sept. 24 at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, but the elder Obiena said he was uneasy in his son going there considering the high cases of COVID-19 in the country.
“Medyo marami ang COVID-19 cases in Doha sa ngayon so pinag-iisipan pa namin sa ngayon ni EJ (Obiena’s nickname) kung pupunta pa siya roon,” the elder Obiena said.
The 75,000-seat Khalifa International Stadium was the site of last year’s world athletic championships and a major venue of the 2006 Doha Asian Games.