ERNEST JOHN “EJ” OBIENA clinched gold at the Perche En Or men’s indoor competition in Roubaix in France on Sunday with a 5.82-meter effort that primed himself for a potential second consecutive Olympics appearance in Paris next year.
The qualifying standard for men’s pole vault is set at 5.82 meters. But an athlete has to clear that height within the qualification and ranking period for individual events—except the 10,000 meters, marathon, combined events and walks—between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024, to earn a ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“EJ, like most great athletes, is driven by fire in his belly,” EJ’s confidante Jim Lafferty told BusinessMirror Sunday.
Lafferty said Obiena’s silver at the Internationales Springer-Meeting in Cottbus, Germany, on Thursday provided him the fire to go for the gold in Roubaix.
“He was upset about Cottbus,” said Lafferty, adding that Obiena’s message a few hours before the Roubaix competition showed the world No. 3 and Asian record holder at 5.94 meters was “mad.”
“He told me ‘It’s time I go out and take care of business,’” he said. “I knew immediately that he would be tough to beat when he’s angry and highly-motivated.”
China’s Yao Jie also went for 5.82 meters but failed thrice with his 5.75 meters enough to earn him silver.
France’s Ethan Cormont cleared 5.65 meters to bag the bronze medal in the competition that attracted 11 pole vaulters.
The 27-year-old Obiena—whose 5.77 meters shoved him to the silver behind American Sam Kendrick’s 5,82 in Cottbus—went for 5.90 meters but missed.
Up next for Obiena is the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships from February 10 to 12 in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan.
The 5.82-meter height for Paris is 2 centimeters higher than the standard in Tokyo.