OLYMPIC-BOUND pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena flew last Sunday from his European home base in Formia, Italy to take part in the 2020 Janus Kusocinski Memorial athletic championships today at the 55,000-capacity Silesian Stadium in Chorzow, Poland.
“EJ informed us yesterday (Sunday) that he got a last-minute invitation from World Athletics to take part in the Poland tournament and went there together with his coach Vitaly Petrov,” Jen Obiena, the athlete’s mother, said.
The trackfest is part of the World Athletics Continental Tour and is classified as a “silver” event, which was named after the late Polish athletic star Janus Kusocinski, who bagged the gold medal in the men’s 10,000-meter race of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Under this category, World Athletics offers a total pot of $5,000 for each event, with the winner getting $1,600, runner-up $1,200 and third placer $900, respectively.
A member of the Polish resistance during World War II, the athlete died a martyr after being executed in 1940 during Germany’s occupation of Poland.
The Janus Kusocinski Memorial meet is a popular annual competition that has drawn the likes of two-time Olympic and world men’s javelin champion Jan Zelesny of Czechoslovakia and noted Kenyan middle distance runner Wilson Kipketer, who won three consecutive gold medals in the men’s 800-meter runs of the world championships from 1995 to 1999.
This is the fourth event since July for Obiena, who is fresh from a runner-up finish in the “Who Is the Finest Pole Vaulter in World?” virtual pole vault meet last Aug. 14 ruled by training partner and Brazilian Rio Olympic Games champion Thiago Braz.