Despite Covid Hurdles, Mondo Duplantis’ Filipino Foe Opens Up About His 6-Meter Leap Triumph in World Athletics Championships

The Philippines has finally reached its first golden era of sports since its independence in 1946. The Asian nation that usually remained a low-tier bottom feeder has slowly entered the center stage. Out of all the hardworking Filipino athletes, one of them clearly stands out. In fact, he inched one step closer to the unreachable Mondo Duplantis this year at the 2023 Budapest WAC.

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Ernest John ‘EJ’ Obiena recently captured the silver medal at the 2023 World Athletics Championship. However, the journey to the prestigious silver medal was no easy feat for the 27-year-old pole vaulter. Speaking to the, Obiena recently revealed his struggle against the deadly COVID-19 before making his nation proud one more time.

The COVID-19 scare just before the Budapest triumph


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The 2023 iteration of the World Athletics Championship in the Hungarian capital of Budapest saw the rise of EJ Obiena one more time. While Obiena obtained the first silver medal in pole vaulting for his nation, he achieved a lot more than just a silver. The Filipino champ shared about the COVID-19 scare he received just before facing Mondo Duplantis in Budapest. Obiena said, “I was first in denial, Then I said ‘Why me? Why is this happening now?’” EJ got extremely frightened when he tested positive for COVID-19 and saw his championship dream fade away before his eyes.

Despite his adverse situation, EJ chose to calm himself down and keep the knowledge of his COVID results within his circle. The Filipino worked for recovery but still had to appear for the qualifiers while burdened with the aftereffects of a draining illness. “There’s a reason why I only jumped two heights in the qualifiers. It was to save energy and all of that. And going into the final I was just like, ‘OK, let’s put everything on the line’, said EJ Obiena. The calculated risk he took paid off heavy dividends. In fact, the world silver medalist became the second vaulter to touch the six-meter mark after Mondo Duplantis.

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Closing the gap with the gold and Mondo Duplantis

While Obiena walked away with a silver medal from Budapest, this silver medal was almost as valuable as the gold. EJ Obiena now stands as the second most successful pole vaulter of all time. The legendary Swedish-American pole vaulter Armand Mondo Duplantis claimed the gold medal with a 6.10-meter vault. The Filipino mustered all his strength and came up with a successful six-meter vault of his own. This was an act of courage for EJ since he didn’t know if he would be able to make the jump. 

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“We didn’t know my fitness level at the time, how good it was, but there’s no point being the victim of the situation,” said EJ. The silver medal at Budapest comes after EJ’s bronze medal at Eugene from the 2022 WAC. The heroic feat, despite struggling with the deadliest disease of the century, serves as an inspiration for all athletes. Obiena will now look forward to challenging Mondo Duplantis once again at the grand stage of Paris. While he has just touched the six-meter mark, Mondo Duplantis currently stands at 6.23 meters. Will EJ be able to turn his silver into gold at the 2024 Olympics?

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Author: ZeroToHero

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