TOKYO Olympic Games-bound Ernest John Obiena will be in the country next week to familiarize himself with the 20,000-seat New Clark City Athletics Stadium in Capas, Tarlac as part of his build-up for the 30th Southeast Asian Game in November.
“EJ (Obiena’s nickname) is scheduled to return to Manila to train at the New Clark City stadium for two weeks,” the pole vaulter’s mother, Jennet Obiena, told Malaya-Business Insight.
It will be Obiena’s first glimpse of the modern stadium built for the SEA Games centerpiece event of athletics since earning the country’s first ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by clearing 5.81 meters, surpassing the qualifying standard of 5.80 meters at the Salto Con L’Asta competitions in Piazza, Italy last Sept. 4.
Currently ranked No. 10 in the IAAF world ratings, the 6-foot-2 pole vaulter competed recently in the world athletic championships in Doha, Qatar where he finished in a tie for 14th to 18th overall with a vault of 5.60 meters.
American Sam Kendricks bagged the gold with a vault of 5.75 meters, narrowly beating Poland’s Piotr Plisek and compatriot Cole Walsh, who also cleared the same height but were relegated to the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Obiena, 23, has returned to Formia, Italy to continue his intensive training at the IAAF special camp under the tutelage of Serbian coach Vitaly Petrov, the previous mentor of former Olympic and world champion Sergey Bubka.
“My son will familiarize himself with the warm-up and actual jump pit at the new facility in Tarlac for two weeks,” the elder Obiena said. “But he will return to Italy and resume training there because there is no equipment there for gymnastics, which is part of his all-around training.
“EJ will likely return five days before the start of his event in the SEA Games.”