The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association is over the moon following the victory of EJ Obiena in the Brussels Diamond League at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels over the weekend.
Patafa secretary general Edward Kho said Obiena’s big win is a massive boost to his morale, giving him a psychological advantage over the world’s best pole vaulters like world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden and Christopher Nilsen of the United States.
Obiena, the 26-year-old Tokyo Olympian, pulled off a shocker when he beat Duplantis and Nilsen to clinch his first gold medal in the prestigious meet for the first time in his career.
He posted 5.91 meters to clinch the gold medal while Duplantis and Nilsen settled for 5.81 and 5.71 meters to cop the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Kho noted that Obiena has yet to beat Duplantis in their head-to-head duels so finally solving the Swedish puzzle is a great boost to his confidence and athletic career as well.
“This is a good turn of events since he is acquiring psychological confidence. These kinds of upsets are a big boost to him because he finally managed to break barriers,” Kho told Daily Tribune in a conversation.
“He might not have necessarily beat his best performance, but it’s important to inch up to your ultimate goal. EJ, like any other elite athlete, would have been in a comfortable zone already competing against higher-ranked opponents.”
Obiena’s adviser, Jim Lafferty, also toasted Obiena’s latest feat, saying that beating two of the best vaulters in the world is truly unbelievable.
“I’m so proud of you, Ernest Obiena,” he said.
“He just won the Brussels Diamond League competition, defeating everyone who matters in a world-class field, including the great Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis and Chris Nilsen, the gold and silver medalists from the Tokyo Olympics and the recent World Championships.”
“This is an incredible performance. EJ, way to go buddy.”
Unfortunately for Obiena, he won’t be able to make a return trip to the final in Zurich, Switzerland after failing to earn enough qualification points. He missed two crucial Diamond League legs in Oslo and Paris last June after contracting Covid-19.
Obiena’s next stop will be the ISTAF Berlin tournament on Sunday (Monday morning in Manila).