ITALY—Ernest John Obiena raised the bar after securing a gold medal and becoming the World University champion in the men's pole vault at the 30th Summer Universiade held at the San Paolo Stadium in Naples, Italy on July 13.
Obiena overtook the field, jumped 5.76 meters and bested Tolben Blech from Germany and Ben Joren Broeders, who placed second and third respectively.
"It’s amazing. I have been dreaming of representing Philippines in the world stage and now I am given an opportunity. As a kid I have been aiming to bring a medal back home," Obiena said.
Obiena took the sport to greater heights with his commanding performance and flawless technique, breaking the Philippines’ previous record of 5.71 meters that he set back in April 2019 in the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Obiena shared how he took risks and encountered struggles in his quest for glory.
"The preparation was really really shaky with a lot of problems. There were times I was going back to the training center not knowing where I would sleep. Me and my coach and certain people worked hard to make this happen against the odds," Obiena said.
He was the only Filipino athlete to win a medal in Universiade, where more than 1,200 athletes from 98 countries participated and competed in 18 sports events.
"There's a lot of risks that I took but it worked to my side," said Obiena.
The 23-year-old athlete from Tondo is currently ranked 13th in the world, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations website.
The next edition of the Winter Universiade will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland on Jan. 21-31, 2021, while the 31st summer edition will be hosted by Chengdu, China on Aug. 8-19, 2021.
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