ERNEST JOHN “EJ” OBIENA snatched rust from an eight-day quarantine due to Covid-19 infection to win pole vault gold for men at the Taby pole vault gala competition in Tibblevallen, Täby, Sweden.
Obiena managed 5.92 meters, one centimeter less than his Asian record that he set in Austria last September, but it was enough to push his friend Thiago Braz da Silva, the gold medalist in Rio 2016 from Brazil, to the silver medal with a bet of 5 , 82 meters and Simen Guttormsen from Norway to bronze with a jump of 5.72 meters.
“I still need to improve on many things, but the important thing is that we get there,” Obiena told BusinessMirror from her hotel room in Stockholm, a 30-minute drive from Täby.
Australian Kurtis Marschall, British Harry Coppell and American Luke Winder all managed 5.62 meters in the field for seven athletes.
Obiena, 26, was infected by Covid-19 on June 12 last year while in Formia, Italy, and acquitted on June 20. He failed to compete at the Oslo Bislett Games in Norway on June 16 and the Meeting de Paris in France on June 19.
“It was like three days of anxiety when I got a high fever, where my temperature reached 39 to 40 [Celsius]. But I’m okay now, said Obiena. “I was alone in my room in Formia for eight days and only my physiotherapist helped me.”
He traveled solo to Sweden last week because his longtime Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov took care of his other pole vaulters in Sweden.
But Obiena – who shares a hotel room in Stockholm with Chinese pole vaulter Bokai Huang to save money – said he still received tips from Petrov through messaging apps.
Obiena also confided in BusinessMirror that Petrov has not yet received a single compensation from the Philippine Sports Commission this year. The Philippine Athletics Federation did not renew Ukraine’s contract after it expired in December last year.
Next for Obiena is the Stockholm BAUHAUS gala Diamond League on Friday.