Asian Games gold medalist and Asia’s top track and field star, Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, is on a mission to nurture future Filipino pole vaulters. On October 10, 2023, he kicked off a fundraising drive aimed at constructing pole vault training pits across the Philippines.
The campaign, named “Katapulting an Athlete’s Dream,” seeks to offer aspiring student-athletes not just the facility but also coach training and community support. It is spearheaded in partnership with marketing tech agency, Katapult Digital.
What’s Up for Auction?
Central to the fundraising effort is an auction featuring Obiena’s prized gear from the 19th Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games, where he snagged gold and broke records. Also available are his silver-winning World Championship suit and custom Puma spikes which he announced he would auction off right after his SEA Games victory. Proceeds go directly to the initiative. At the press launch for the auction, EJ longingly bid farewell to his gear, revealing their value to him – gear which witnessed and carried him through historic milestones in his career.
EJ Obiena Speaks Out
During the press conference at Chili’s in Greenhills, San Juan, the 27-year-old Obiena, who began pole vaulting at age six under his father Emerson, stressed the potential in Filipino athletes. “I believe the Filipinos can win at a global level but we can’t do this alone. The Philippine pole vaulting community holds much potential. All stakeholders and supporters need to band together to maximize the possibilities,” he said.
A Star in the Making
Obiena, the World’s No. 2 in Men’s Pole Vault, wasn’t always a household name. But since becoming the first Filipino to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he’s garnered international attention. He has accumulated medals globally, set Asian records, and even defeated the reigning world champion.
In an exclusive interview with GoodNewsPilipinas, Obiena laid out his vision: “I want to show Filipinos that we are capable of being good in pole vaulting and that it can be a great source of medals for our country.”
Trials and Triumphs
Despite challenges, including conflicts with local officials, Obiena has remained steadfast in his commitment to the Philippines. He’s now receiving financial support from various organizations, including his alma mater Chiang Kai Shek College, for his upcoming Olympics gold bid in Paris 2024.
Francis Uy, CEO of Katapult Digital, encapsulated the sentiment: “EJ Obiena inspires and reminds us that the Philippines is truly world-class when it comes to talent.”
How to Support the Cause
EJ is urging the country to support its young athletes better. “The idea is to find a place (for the vault pit) where it’s more accessible to kids,” he emphasized. He pointed out videos of Filipino kids trying to pole vault without a pit, of jumping in sawdust. “I think it’s a bit sad that the World No. 2 from the Philippines is still seeing beginner athletes not having the facilities that they need,” EJ mourned. “It’s really something I would want to change, something that I hope in the near future would never be the case,” he added.
Besides the ongoing auction, which concludes on his 28th birthday, November 17, donations are also welcome. To participate, visit the fundraiser’s website and bid on EJ’s gear or contribute to his mission to propel Filipino pole vaulting to greater heights. Check out the site here:
Filipino champion EJ Obiena has launched a fund drive to build pole vault pits across the nation to help train athletes. @ejobienapv is auctioning his sports memorabilia and welcomes donations from fans and supporters. Full story on @GoodNewsPinas_ https://t.co/LGoSBpTqyx pic.twitter.com/S33dMWe9LL
— Angie Quadra Balibay (@AngieQBalibay) October 11, 2023
Don’t miss your chance to own a piece of sports history and help build the future of Filipino pole vaulting. Head to the fundraiser’s website to bid on EJ Obiena’s gear or make a donation today! Share this article to spread the word and help EJ Obiena’s vision for Filipino athletics come true!
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