EJ on 6.0-meter mark: That’s the plan

There are 24 athletes who have broken the 6.0-meter barrier in men’s pole vault and Ernest John “EJ” Obiena wants to be the 25th.

ERNEST JOHN “EJ” OBIENA almost shunned expounding on a question if he’ll, sooner or later, break the so-called “Holy Grail” of men’s pole vault—the 6.0-meter barrier.

“That’s the plan, that definitely I want to achieve,” Obiena told a virtual news conference with a select group of Filipino sportswriters the day after he clinched the country’s first medal at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on Monday.

“There are only 24 people who have made the 6-meter mark, I want to be the 25th,” he said with confidence and caution.

“There are a lot of things I want to do in the sport. I am still happy to win the bronze but missing six meters is like…there’s something I need to do.”

World record holder Armand Duplantis tops “6-Meter Club” with 6.21 meters he achieved in Oregon, with the legendary Russian-Ukrainian Sergey Bubka first breaking the 6-meter bar exactly on July 13, 1985.

Also on the list are Russians Rodion Gataullin, Igor Trandenkov, Maksim Tarasov, Yevgeniy Lukyanenko and Timur Morgunov; Americans Jeff Hartwig, Toby Stevenson, Brad Walker, Tim Mack and Sam Kendricks; Germans Danny Ecker and Bjorn Otto; Frenchmen French Jean Galfione and Renaud Lavillenie; Australians Paul Burgess and Steve Hooker;  South African Okkert Brits; Belarusian Dmitry Markov; Canadian Shawn Barber; Brazilian Thiago Braz; and Pole Piotr Lisek.

Jim Lafferty and Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Terry Capistrano are confident Obiena could break 6 meters anytime soon.

“He is ready and all he needs is a bit of luck,” said Lafferty, Obiena’s long-time confidante and coach. “The right jump at the right time.”

“His clearance of 5.94 showed under video analysis that had the bar been at 6 meters, he would have cleared it,” Lafferty said. “So we know he can do it and he has already done it. The bar just wasn’t set there at that time.”

“I have a feeling once he breaks the 6-meter mark, EJ will have his chance to do it over and over again to become the first ever Asian to do it,” said Capistrano who just got back from Oregon on Wednesday. “I believe he can do it after resetting the Asian record.”

“He tried to break it during the competition. He’s just a few centimeters away, but I think it is more of the mental aspect of the game,” said Capistrano, adding that pole vault requires a lot of great skill set and focus to achieve something extraordinary like what Duplantis has been doing.

“Duplantis has been playing the sport since he was five, that’s why his skills and concentration are very impressive,” he said.

Height won’t also be a factor , according to Capistrano—Obiena is 6-foot-2 while Duplantis stands three inches shorter.

Capistrano thanked revered Ukranian coach and training Vitaly Petrov for helping mold Obiena despite his busy schedule that includes coaching athletes from Brazil and China.

“Vitaly treats EJ just like his own son,” Capistrano said.

Capistrano said Obiena will definitely compete at the Cambodia 32nd Southeast Asian Games from May 5 to 16, as well as the Hangzhou 19th Asian Games from September 23 to October 8 next year.

The world championships from August 19 to 27 in Budapest is also on Obiena’s 2023 program.

Image credits: AP


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