Ernest John Obiena was screaming and pointing to his temple just after surpassing 5.75 meters, on his third and final attempt, to reach the final of the men’s pole vault competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.
“I knew he can still do better, he has enough clearance,” his mother and Philippine athletics board director Jeanette Obiena told Radyo Pilipinas 2 to explain why her son had made the gesture. “I know you are not satisfied. Because he is sure he can do it. “
Elder Obiena said that one area in which EJ has come a long way is his mental toughness. “If that was earlier, that third try might have ended differently.”
Helping him with his psychological game is Dr. Sheryll Kasuga, a Filipino sports psychologist based in the United States. She has been with EJ since he recovered from an injury several years ago.
In Tokyo, EJ is under the supervision of Father Emerson and his mentor Vitaly Petrov.
“In the final, it will be very, very close. Everybody wants to start from scratch, ”said Jeanette, referring to Tuesday’s grand finale.
Jeanette was an active participant in EJ’s Olympic journey, having seen him try out the sport using a makeshift pole from a PVC pipe when he was little.
“But now I’m just texting him [to ask] if he ate well and how are the conditions, “said Jeanette. “I don’t call him because I know him a lot. You want to focus on what you are doing. This is his dream in life, to compete in the Olympics. “
He said the ability to adapt to conditions and weather are key factors in the final.
EJ’s personal best is 5.85m, lower than that of some of his closest rivals, including Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis, who holds the world record of 6.18m.
But just as it happened in the preliminaries, where everyone only had to exceed 5.75 m and not specify 5.80 m, it will be anyone’s game.
Or brain game, for that matter. INQ
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