With things going well as planned and as executed, EJ Obiena finally rewrote the Asian record books.
The 25-year-old Olympian has staked his claim as the best Asian pole vaulter. He smashed the 23-year-old Asian record with a new mark of 5.93 meters in his gold-winning performance at the 2021 Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria, Sunday (Philippine time).
Obiena came so close to beating the then-prevailing record of 5.92 meters in the final of the Diamond League, just last Thursday in Zurich. It was previously set by Igor Potapovich of Kazakhstan in Stockholm, Sweden on February 19, 1998.
Come Saturday evening and 285 kilometers east of the Swiss city, the world number 6 came up huge. And finally, he ended the wait.
The reigning Asian champion had the gold medal in the bag after his successful foray at 5.80 meters, since all his opponents bowed down by that height. Still, he took the opportunity to put himself in the annals of history. However, his first two attempts once more went begging.
Finally, with the conditions perfect and egged on by the loving fans, Obiena took a strong sprint with his pole. He planted the pole at a perfect angle for the approach. And with a smooth heave over the bar, he barely grazed it for the finish and the new mark of 5.93 meters.
“I wanted this one so bad. I couldn’t have done it without all of you guys,” the new record-holder said to the appreciative and supportive Innsbruck crowd.
It was a huge leap from his performance in the event last year. Back then, he ended with just 5.30 meters in the rain-marred contest as the organizers called off the competition.
USA’s Matt Ludwig walked home with the silver medal with 5.60 meters on countback over Turkish youngster Esu Sasma, who ended with the bronze.