Full Name: Ernest John Uy Obiena
Birthday: November 17, 1995 (Age 26)
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.9 m)
Birth Place: Tondo, Manila
Parents: Emerson and Jeanette Obiena
Ernest John Uy Obiena (born November 17, 1995) is a Filipino pole vaulter. Before breaking the Asian Athletics Championships record, he held the Philippine national record in pole vaulting with a record of 5.55 meters which he accomplished on April 29, 2016 at the 78th Singapore Open Championships in Kallang, Singapore. He later broke the Asian Athletics Championships record with 5.71 meters on April 21, 2019 on its 23rd biennial meet at Doha, Qatar which earned him the coveted gold medal finish. He currently holds the National Record which he broke in the same event.
EJ Obiena is the first Filipino that has been given a scholarship from the International Athletic Association Federation (IAAF).
EJ Obiena was born to track and field athletes, Emerson and Jeanette Obiena on November 17, 1995 in Tondo, Manila. Obiena attended the Chiang Kai Shek College for his secondary education, and is a college student at the University of Santo Tomas.
EJ Obiena used to compete at the 100 and 400 meter hurdles event for his high school, Chiang Kai Shek College. At the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), he competed for the University of Santo Tomas.
EJ Obiena’s father, Emerson serves as his coach, also formerly served as the former Athletics national team member.
In early 2014, for three months, EJ Obiena with his father was given an opportunity to train under coach Vitaly Petrov in Formia, Italy who also previously coached Sergey Bubka. On July 20, 2014, at the PATAFA weekly relays held at the PhilSports Football and Athletics Stadium, EJ Obiena broke the national record for pole vault by registering 5.01 meters. The previous record was 5.0 meters by Edward Lasquete at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. The junior national record was also broken, since EJ Obiena at that time is 18 years old. The previous record was 4.31 set three years ago.
He later broke his own record several times in 2014 alone (5.05, 5.05, 5.15, 5.20, 5.21). By the time Obiena became ineligible for the national junior record, the record was 5.21 which EJ Obiena set himself.
In the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, EJ Obiena won a silver medal with a leap of 5.25 meters, that time his’ personal record. Obiena won a gold medal in the 2016 Philippine National Games Finals in Lingayen, Pangasinan after breaking a new personal record (5.47 meters), despite problems with his broken pole.
EJ Obiena won gold in the men’s pole vault event at the 2019 Summer Universiade setting a new national record of 5.76 meters. He secured a berth in the 2020 Summer Olympics by surpassing the qualifying standard by making a 5.81 meters finish in a tournament in Chiara, Italy on September 3, 2019. The finish was also a national record.
At the 2019 World Athletics Championships he failed to advance to the final round by finishing 15th out of 35 entrants through his 5.6 meters finish. He is aiming to surpass his own record targeting to leap 5.85 meters or further in training.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the postponement of the Olympics and travel restrictions imposed by countries in response to the health crisis posed logistical issues to EJ Obiena’s preparations. For most of 2020, EJ Obiena spent his time training in Formia, Italy and was unable to go back to the Philippines during the Christmas season. He trained under American conditioning coach James Michael Lafferty and Nutritionist Carol Lafferty; along with Brazilian Thiago Braz as his training partner.