MANILA, Philippines - Pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena posted 5.01 meters in the PATAFA weekly relays at the Philsports Oval in Pasig City last Sunday, shattering the 22-year-old mark of 5.0 meters set by Ed Lasquete in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
“EJ Obiena (only 18 years old) broke the 22-year-old Philippine record in pole vault in last Sunday’s PATAFA weekly relays that was participated in by 1,200 athletes,” Philippine Sports commissioner Jolly Gomez told The STAR yesterday.
PSC consultant Andrew Pirie said the 5.01-m mark is also a national juniors record since the Ateneo sophomore is still technically a junior with the son of former Filipino pole vault champion Emerson is only turning 19 this December.
“He (Obiena) has taken the junior record from 4.31 to 5.01 in the last three years, it’s really impressive,” said Pirie.
The younger Obiena has been training for three months with six-time world pole vault champion Sergey Bubka of Ukraine in Formia, Italy.
With sustained training, Obiena could approach the Southeast Asian Games record of Thai Kreeta Sintawacheewa five years ago in Vientiane, Laos.
Obiena, who finished fourth in the Myanmar SEAG last year, cleared the 5.0-meter requirement early in the year, paving the way for him to train with Bubka, vice president of the International Association of Athletics Federations who heads the training camp.
Bubka is considered as the best pole vaulter who ever lived after he won the Olympic gold in 1998 in Seoul, South Korea. He shattered the world record 35 times – 17 in outdoor and 18 in indoor meets – and was the first ever in the sport to breach the 6.0m and 6.10m mark.
Bubka, now 50 years old, owned the world mark of 6.15m for almost 21 years until French Renaud Lavillenie cleared 6.16m on Feb. 15, 2014.