Like father, like son

THE country’s most promising pole vaulter, Ernest John Obiena continues to follow in his father’s footsteps by breaking the national junior record yet again.

Ernest John Obiena, center, accepts his gold medal at the podium after winning the men’s open pole event of the 2013 Hong Kong Intercity Athletic Challenge at the Tseung Kwan O sports ground. Beside him is his father Emerson Obiena who placed second and the Hong Kong bet who placed third.

He cleared 4.9 meters in the men’s open pole event of the 2013 Hong Kong Intercity Athletic Challenge last Sunday  at the Tseung Kwan O sports ground.

Second generation pole vaulter Ernest John is the son of the country’s most celebrated pole vaulter Emerson Obiena. Amazingly, the 49-year-old Emerson helped push his son to do his best by placing second in the same competition with a vault of 4.20 meters.

The standing  Philippine record for men of 5.0 meters is held by  Fil-American Edward Lasquete.

In the women’s open division, another Filipina Riezel Buenaventura cleared 3.8 meters to  rank first. Emily Jean Obiena, Ernest John’s sister, made 3.0 meters for the silver.

Just a week before setting that record Ernest John, a sophomore at Ateneo de Manila University, cleared 4.75 meters and claimed the silver medal on his second attempt in the men’s division of the 75th Singapore Open Track and Field Championships at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium in Singapore.

Ernest John himself set the Philippine national junior record in pole vault at the 75th University Athletic Association of the Philippines at the Philsports Arena in Pasig a few months ago.

The then-freshman erased the Philippine junior mark when he cleared 4.5 meters. He broke the old record of 4.3 meters set in 2006 by Adamson’s Jerome Margallo.

Emerson, who is now the national coach in pole vault, is a two-time SEA Games silver medallist (1993 and 1999) in his sport. He won his last SEA games medal, a bronze, during the 2005 Southeast Asian Games held at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila when he was already 41 years old.

Emerson’s official best jump is 4.95 meters which he set during the 1999 National Open.

Russian pole vaulter Sergey Bubka captured the public’s imagination when he broke the world record for men’s pole vaulting 35 times. Filipinos have a good chance to excel in the pole-vaulting. Bubka, is only six feet tall. Emerson is 5’11” and son Ernest John is already 6’1” tall.

According to Emerson, given the proper training and opportunities a local athlete can rule pole vaulting at least at the Asian level. But the sport’s biggest drawback here in the Philippines is the lack of competition which is why the Obiena’s have to travel overseas to help Ernest John improve his mark.

Ernest John Obiena
Ernest John Obiena


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