Fresh from his ascension to the world No. 2 rating, EJ Obiena yesterday expressed the belief that the best is yet to come as the Italy-based pole vaulter braces for topnotch tournaments taking place in the next four weeks.
“I’m currently still not amazed. I think I’m capable of doing more and getting better,” Obiena said.
Obiena dislodged erstwhile world No. 2 Chris Nilsen after earning 1432 points following solid finishes across Europe and Asia the past several weeks.
World and Olympic champion Armand Duplantis, a Swedish-American, kept his stranglehold of the top spot with a total of 1569 points.
Nilsen, representing the United States, took Obiena’s place with 1428 points.
‘I think I’m capable of doing more and getting better.’
Obiena is coming off an overpowering performance in the Asian championships held in Pattaya, Thailand, where he set a new meet mark of 5.91 meters.
“Your very own skinny kid from Tondo, alumni of Chiang Kai Shek College and University of Santo Tomas, is now world number two,” Obiena, 27, said.
To kick off his drive, Obiena takes part in the Monaco Diamond League on Friday (Saturday in Manila) at the Stade Louis II in Fontvielle in a bid to qualify in the Diamond League final that happens 16 to 17 September in Eugene, Oregon.
This year alone, Obiena shattered the Asian record with a vault of six meters and became the first Filipino to secure a slot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“Thank you to everyone who made this possible, and my deepest gratitude to those who went to war so that I could continue this dream. This is not just my accomplishment alone, but everyone’s accomplishment.”
Apart from Duplantis and Nilsen, also expected to join the Monaco Diamond League are American pole vaulters Sam Kendricks and Zach Mcwhorter, Pal Haugen Lillefosse and Sondre Guttormsen of Norway and Kurtis Marschall of Australia.
Likewise, Obiena is revving up for the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary from 19 to 27 August as he seeks to soar higher and higher.
“I wouldn’t say I’m amazed with my performance but I’m happy with the progress before Paris.”
Meanwhile, Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Janry Ubas took home the gold in the men’s long jump in the Motonet Grand Prix in Lappeenranta, Finland Thursday morning after tallying 7.86m.
The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association congratulated Ubas as he aims to join Obiena and Asian Athletics Championships gold medalist Robyn Brown in Budapest.
“The Motonet GP is a World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze-rated event. Ubas’ win could give him as much as 60 World Ranking points on top of the 90 points he received for placing seventh at the 2023 Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok last week, boosting his quest for a World Championships slot. At present, Ubas is at No. 53 with 1160 points. Congratulations Janry!!!” the federation said in a social media post.