Asian Games 2023 Update: EJ Obiena Breaks Records, Seizes 1st Gold for Philippines

Asian Games  EJ Obiena
Defying Gravity: EJ Obiena Soars to Records-Shattering Gold Medal Performance at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Read on for videos and stats at the Asian Games. Photos from PSC-POC Pool and EJ Obiena.

Ernest John “EJ” Obiena did more than live up to the hype; he soared above it, becoming the epitome of athletic excellence both for the Philippines and the continent at the 2023 Asian Games in China. The Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium became a hallowed ground over the weekend where the World No. 2 in pole vault not only captured his inaugural Asiad championship but also etched his name into history with record-smashing performances.

This was no ordinary victory witnessed by spectators on September 30th. Obiena obliterated a three-decade drought in Philippine athletics, bringing home the country’s first athletics gold since the iconic Lydia de Vega’s triumph in the women’s 100m back in 1986. To grasp the magnitude of this achievement, imagine this: Obiena didn’t just break the previous Asian Games record of 5.70 meters set by Japan’s Seito Yamamoto in 2018 — he annihilated it and showcased his dominance in the sport.

Undeniably Asia’s No. 1

Asia’s No. 1 athlete first broke the Games Record by clearing 5.75m in two tries – the lone competitor in a field of 12 to reach the height. He then went on to effortlessly break his newly set record to establish another at 5.90m. His nearest competition could only manage 5.65m, with the silver going to Huang Bokai of China who edged the bronze on countback to Hussain Al-Hizam of Saudi Arabia.

Even though his Asian Games victory was already in the bag, the Filipino pride in pole vault, attempted 6.02m to break his season-best record of 6.0m, the height that earned him the silver at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. “I didn’t want to stop at 5.90,” Obiena expressed in his post-game interview. “I would have liked to hit a record in front of an Asian crowd. That would have been amazing.”

But let’s take a moment to appreciate the man himself. Ernest John Obiena is not just any athlete; he’s Asia’s pole-vaulting virtuoso. As the only Asian in the elite 6-Metre Club, the 27-year-old didn’t merely win—he dominated. “Jumping in front of a thunderous-synchronized claps of 80,000 people in a breathtakingly beautiful Hangzhou Stadium was more than enough to blow my mind,” Obiena reflected in a social media post.


Career-Best Year

A season of staggering achievements led up to this moment. Obiena clinched medals in 15 out of 16 meets, defended his Asian Athletics Championship title, and bagged a historic silver in the World Athletics Championships—all in just five months. He’s even already qualified for the Paris Olympics – the first Filipino to claim the berth.

Ernest John Obiena’s performance at the Asian Games was the crown jewel in a year of incredible highs. “This is one of the biggest stadiums I’ve been in and one of the most amazing crowds,” he said. This golden boy from Tondo, Manila has, without a doubt, given the Philippines and its people something monumental to cheer about.

Well-Deserved Rest Before the Olympics

“So, what’s next for Obiena?” you might ask. Well, he’s earned the right to rest, according to him. After a whirlwind 2023 that catapulted him to world no. 2, Obiena plans to take it easy for a while.

No one could have said it better than athletics president Terry Capistrano: “I’m very happy that he pulled through. I can imagine the pressure on EJ because of all the expectations, but he pulled through… This is not just about athletics; it’s for our campaign here in general.”

Obiena himself put the emotional exclamation point on his groundbreaking year, saying, “What a privilege it was to deliver the country’s first gold in the 19th Asian Games and break the Championship Record. Now we officially close this season with a smile.”

Philippines Medal Tally at 9

Obiena’s gold victory boosted the country’s rank which now stands at No. 19. The country now has a tally of 1 gold, 1 silver, and 7 bronze medals, including a bronze in tennis from the duo of Alexandra Eala and Francisco Alcantara, and another bronze from Patrick Bren Coo’s Cycling BMX Racing.

So, as we celebrate this towering achievement, let’s make sure the world knows about it. SHARE THIS ARTICLE far and wide and let’s give EJ Obiena the standing ovation he so richly deserves.

For more updates on Team Philippines’ journey at the 2023 Asian Games and other inspiring stories, don’t forget to follow GoodNewsPilipinas. Click the “Subscribe” button to make sure you never miss a moment that makes you proud to be Filipino!

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The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.