WITH the onset of the cold weather in Italy and the rising cases of COVID-19, Olympic-bound pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena has moved out of the World Athletics elite training center in Formia and set up a new training camp in Padua, Northern Italy.
“EJ has left the facility because of the spike of COVID cases in Formia as well as inadequate heating system that has disrupted his workouts,” said Obiena’s mother, Jen, who talked to her son over the weekend.
Obiena capped his outdoor season in 2020 with a season-best jump of 5.80 meters and bagged the bronze medal last Sept. 17 in the Pietro Mennea Golden Gala meet at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome where Swedish-American sensation Armand Duplantis took the gold with a new world outdoor mark of 6.15 meters.
The elder Obiena said his son’s Serbian coach, Vitaly Petrov, made arrangements for EJ and his training partner, Brazilian Rio Olympic Games gold medalist Thiago Braz, to set up their new training camp in the city located 489 kilometers northwest of the Italian capital.
“They moved into Padua last Friday and they have already practiced once. EJ said they were okay and there was adequate heating,” Mrs. Obiena said.
Padua is home to the Universita Degli Studi de Padova, or the Padova University Sports Center, that features a stadium which has an indoor 100-meter track and pole vault area.
Emerson Obiena, the national pole vault coach and the athlete’s personal mentor, said the current temperatures in Italy have dipped below 10-degree Celsius, prompting his son to wear thicker clothing as he does his jumps and workouts.