Ernest John Obiena has left for Spala, Poland, to continue training under renowned pole vault coach Vitaly Petrov of Ukraine in preparation for at least four world-level tournaments from January to March.
Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa) president Philip Ella Juico said the 20-year-old Obiena, a second-generation national vaulter, is preparing for the Seventh Asian Indoor Athletics Championships slated Feb. 19 to 21 in Doha.
Juico said he is confident Obiena’s 5.45-meter personal best will further improve under the tutelage of Petrov, who steered the Filipino from 5.0 meters to his present mark.
The University of Santo Tomas standout is slated to compete within the coming months in several meets around the world to bolster his bid for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“EJ’s performance has progressed remarkably under the guidance of Petrov,” said Juico.
Obiena and his father-coach Emerson left the country before Christmas for Spala. He was supposed to train at the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) training facility in Formia, Italy, but Petrov decided its runway was too short for the Filipino to do his long approach runs.
“He (Obiena) continues to grow and gain needed weight. In fact the pole that EJ uses now, as befits his height and weight and progression, is heavier and stiffer,” added Juico.
Obiena wound up with a silver in the Singapore Southeast Asian Games where he posted 5.25 meters. Last September during the Patafa Weekly Relays he registered 5.45 meters which is the new Philippine record, breaking his own mark.