MANILA -- Pole vaulter EJ Obiena continues to improve, thanks to his overseas training, Philippine Track and Field Association (PATAFA) chief Philip Juico said.
Obiena, who has already qualified for next year's Tokyo Olympics, recorded a season-high 5.74 meters to win the gold in the 59th Ostrava Golden Spike competition in Czech Republic recently.
"EJ continues to be helped in his quest by colleagues and fellow competitor, Brazilian Thiago Braz, 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist and coach Vitali Petrov who does things for EJ without any additional compensation. He is EJ's second father," noted Juico.
"We look forward to EJ's next competition, which is hopefully, pending confirmation, two days from now in Berlin."
Obiena bested a tough field in the Czech Republic, which included his teammate and reigning Olympic champion Braz, two-time reigning world champion Sam Kendricks of the US, 2013 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe of Germany, 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France, and 2011 world champion Paweł Wojciechowski of Poland.
"EJ Obiena's outstanding performance in Ostrava clearly demonstrates once again that EJ and the Obiena family, EJ's supporters, the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) and PATAFA are doing the right things to produce noteworthy results," said Juico.
"EJ continues to compete against the world's best and is on track to surpass his personal best of 5.81 with, what EJ's father-coach Emerson says, are 'a few adjustments.'"
Juico said they expect Obiena to improve his chances to win the gold in the 2021 Summer Games.