Appearing ragged, Ernest John Obiena cleared 5.54 meters Friday (Poland time) and settled for the bronze medal in a tie with reigning US indoor champion Matt Ludwig at the Poznan Athletics Grand Prix in front of a sellout crowd in Poznan, Poland.
Fresh from his triumphant stint at the Golden Spike meet in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Obiena and Ludwig made the jump on their second tries in the event won by hometown bet and 2017 European indoor titlist Piotr Lisek (5.72 meters).
Lisek’s compatriot, Robert Somera, bagged the silver (5.52 meters) on his initial attempt in the competition held at the 3,000-seat Golecin Sports Complex stadium nestled within the Golecinski national forest featuring the Lake Rusalka reservoir.
The Pinoy athlete’s father-coach, Emerson Obiena, who watched the event that was video streamed live by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association on its YouTube and Facebook sites, observed that his son looked spent during his performance.
“EJ (Obiena’s nickname) might be tired after making the long overland trip from Poland,” Emerson said of the 426.4-kilometer trip from Ostrava to Poznan, which included a five-hour train ride plus another hour by bus from the city of Katowice to Poznan.
The country’s first Tokyo Olympics qualifier left Poland a day after competing in Ostrava last Sept. 8.
“Coach Vitaly Petrov once told both of us that if your make a 3-hour trip by land you need at least day to recover,” Emerson said.
Petrov, who once handled former world and Olympic world champion Sergey Bubka, accompanied Obiena to Poland.
Petrov heads the World Athletics elite camp in Formia, Italy, where Obiena and Rio Olympic Games gold medalist Thiago Braz have been training since 2015.
The elder Obiena noted the Poland meet was his son’s third in less than a week since seeing action in the washed-out Golden Roof Challenge of the Golden Fly athletic series in Innbruck, Austria on September 5.
Emerson said he was grateful to Polish 2019 European Indoor champ Pawel Wojciechowski, who volunteered to take Ernest John’s poles on his plane trip back home, which lessened his son’s burden.
Wojciechowski, who ruled the European indoor meet with a jump of 5.90 meters, had another lackluster outing in front of his compatriots, finishing last in the field of six entries after failing to clear 5.37 meters.
Ernest John and Petrov were headed for Berlin next to join Braz, who will see action in the International Stadionfest, a World Athletics Continental Tour silver event, scheduled Sunday (early Monday in Manila), according to Emerson.
“My son is not yet sure whether he will compete in Berlin. What is certain is that EJ has been invited to compete in the Rome leg of the Diamond League on Sept. 17,” the elder Obiena said.
Named after Italian 200-meter Olympic champion Petro Mennea, Golden Gala Petro Mennea will be held at the 70,000-seat Stadio Olimpico, site of the 1960 Rome Olympic Games opening ceremonies and Olympic athletic championships.