TOKYO Olympics-bound pole-vaulter EJ Obiena has been having it solid in international competitions he is participating in, something the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) is bullish about.
Speaking at the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, Patafa President Philip Ella Juico said they have been monitoring Mr. Obiena and they like what they have been seeing.
Mr. Obiena has been on a tear early in his 2021 season, fashioning podium finishes as well as breaking national indoor records.
Recently, he nabbed back-to-back gold medals in tournaments in Germany and last weekend set a new national indoor record of 5.86 meters in winning the silver in the Orlen Cup held in Lodz, Poland.
Mr. Juico said the stellar showing of the Filipino pole-vaulter of late bodes well for Mr. Obiena’s push in his Olympic medal quest.
“Without being over confident, we are very bullish about his chances. The past few weeks had been an indication of where he’s headed, given the new things that he’s doing together with his coach and therapist. It’s a combination of talent, hard work, and technology, and they’re using this in the right amount and in the right quantity, just like a recipe for a good meal,” said Mr. Juico.
Adding, “He’s very confident and upbeat about his chances.”
Mr. Obiena, currently training in Europe with his coach and Olympic gold medalist Vitaly Petrov, picked up from where he left off last year where he made waves in various competitions despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
He was the first Filipino athlete to book a spot in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which has been rescheduled for this year.
Joining him in Japan to date are gymnast Caloy Yulo and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno.
Mr. Obiena is set to see action this week in the Copernicus Cup in Poland, and then participate in one more event to close out his indoor campaigns.
Meanwhile, Mr. Juico also shared the progress of Filipino tracksters Eric Cray, Kristina Knott, and Natalie Uy in their own push to make it to the Olympics.
The Patafa official said Mr. Cray competed in two tournaments in Alabama last month and is set to see action in a Texas meet, while Ms. Knott is currently in Orlando preparing for a Feb. 21 track meet in Arkansas before entering a two-month bubble in Austin, Texas, where she will join events that are solely confined within the Texas area and nearby states.
Ms. Uy, admitted Mr. Juico, has an outside chance to qualify since the female pole-vaulter is still recuperating from a wrist injury.
Deadline to meet the qualifying standard for athletics is by the end of June. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo