Ernest John Obiena has secured a gold medal for the Philippines in the 2019 Asian Athletics Championship on Sunday, April 21, in Doha, Qatar.
The 23-year old Filipino athlete topped the men’s pole vault event after clearing 5.71 meters in his 11th attempt to beat Chinese pole vaulters Zhang Wei and Bokai Huang in the ongoing sports meet.
With his victory, Obiena ended the 10-year gold medal drought of the Philippines in the Asian Athletics Championship. The last gold medal of the country in the tournament was in 2009 when Marestella Torres ruled the women’s long jump event.
Obiena, who set a new Asian Athletics Championships record, also secured a slot in the 2019 World Athletics Championships that will run from September 28 until October 6 in Doha.
“We got it! Proud to say after all the trouble we have made it happen. It was definitely not easy! It took a lot and felt like hell sometimes,” Obiena said in a Facebook post.
“There have been times that I have lost hope. There are times that I have been frustrated. There have been a lot of heart breaks and pain in this journey. It was a piece of work to say the least,” Obiena added.
The Filipino pole vaulter stressed that his victory did not solely come from his efforts. He thanked his family, coach Vitaliy Petrov, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and other people who supported him.
“All that was endurable because I have been surrounded by people who believe in me. This win is not just for me,” Obiena said.
“This is to my teammates, Friends, Doctors, everyone who stayed with me thru the hard times. This is not MY win this is OUR win and I can’t thank you all enough,” Obiena added.