AFTER more than a month’s respite, Olympic-bound pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena resumed training at the World Athletics elite training camp in Formia, Italy last Monday in preparation for the European athletics indoor season, according to the athlete’s mother Janet.
“EJ began training last Monday since his coach Vitaly Petrov is also back from vacation,” the elder Obiena said, adding that it was a “blessing in disguise” that his son stayed put in Italy. “Buti hindi na siya nakabalik sa Pilpinas pero mahirap.
“His training partner (Rio Olympic Games gold medalist) Thiago Braz has not been able to come back from Brazil. I don’t know the whole story. Hindi pa siya nakabalik,” she added.
Italian authorities have imposed new restrictions to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, among them enforcing a 14-day quarantine for travelers entering the country coming from high-risk areas of the virus.
Obiena last saw action in the Diamond League’s Pietro Mennea Golden Gala meet at the Rome Olympic Stadium last Sept. 18, clinching the bronze medal with a season-best jump of 5.80 meters, just .01 meters off his national record of 5.81 meters.
He set his national mark in ruling the Salto Con L’asta meet in Piazza, Italy on Sept. 3, 2019, surpassing the Olympic qualifying mark of 5.80 meters and becoming the country’s first qualifier for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The elder Obiena said his son is back in rebuilding his foundation under the supervision of Petrov, who also mentored world and Olympic champion Sergey Bubka, “but there is no structured training yet.”
She revealed that with most of the athletes at the training camp leaving for vacation “my son had to battle homesickness just to keep himself preoccupied. It was good when he had friends to talk to there. He also did nothing related to his sport.”