EJ Obiena not satisfied with podium finishes: 'More to come'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 25 2020 04:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- EJ Obiena marked his return to action with a pair of podium finishes, but the results only made the Olympic-bound pole vaulter hungrier for better results.

"I'm happy, masaya po pero I'm not satisfied," Obiena said of his recent performances, during an interview on Radyo Pilipinas.

After months of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic — which also forced the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics — Obiena took part in the Wanda Diamond League in Monaco.

He secured the bronze there, clearing 5.70 meters in his second attempt. Armand Duplantis, the world record holder, won gold. Belgium's Ben Broeders also cleared 5.70 meters, but needed just one attempt to do so.

Obiena then took part in the "Who is the Finest Pole Vaulter in the World?", an online competition that also featured reigning Olympic champion Thiago Braz, Matt Ludwig of the United States, and Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland.

Braz won the event with a 5.70-meter mark, and Obiena came second after clearing 5.60 meters.

"I'm not reaching the heights that I think I can actually do. So there's still hopefully more to come," Obiena said.

Obiena qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after clearing 5.81-meters, but he has yet to reach that mark again.

While he acknowledged that his performances were "not bad," Obiena said there is plenty for him to work on if he hopes to have a good showing in next year's Summer Games.

"There's still a lot for me to work on and there's still a lot for me to do. To be honest, my coach is not so happy about my performances," he also revealed, referring to Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov who works with him and Braz.

"He (Petrov) is aiming for much higher heights, and that's what I'm trying to do," said Obiena.

The 24-year-old pole vaulter will continue to compete in meets until September, with the goal of setting consistent marks in every event he joins.

"Just jump as high as I can, just hit that mark, every single day, and every single competition. I think that's a big help," said Obiena. "The more consistent you can be, the better and the less nerves gets into you."

Ultimately, the goal for Obiena is to jump higher than 5.81 meters, which remains his personal best as well as a national record.

"I do think I'm on the right track to do it and I'm fully capable of doing what I've been saying," he said.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).