Hanoi, Vietnam, May 14, 2022: Tokyo Olympian Ernest John “EJ” Obiena retained his Southeast Asian Games men’s pole vault title in style at the My Dinh National Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The 26-year-old Asian champion from the Philippines not only defended his SEA Games crown from 2019 but also broke the meet record with a clearance of 5.46 metres, beating his own mark of 5.45 metres.
Obiena then tried to break his personal Asian record of 5.93 metres with his attempt at 5.94 meters, but failed to do so in three attempts.
The Italy-based track and field talent had won SEA Games gold for the first time on home soil in 2019 and proved himself to be No. 1 in the region two years on.
His second SEA Games gold medal and new SEA Games record brought his Hanoi mission to a successful conclusion two days after he was his country’s flagbearer in the opening ceremony at the same stadium on May 12.
“The conditions were hard and too many of my competitors were having cramps,” he told the Philippine Inquirer. “I’m relieved, to be honest, and happy as well.”
Only last month, on April 15, Obiena reported on his Facebook page that a five-month long accounting dispute with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) had been resolved when his place in the SEA Games team had been in jeopardy.
There was further good news for the Philippines as Obiena’s teammate, Hokett delos Santos, 19, took the silver medal clearing 5.00 meters.