Meet Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, the 23-year-old medal hope for the Philippines at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
EJ Obiena is the first Filipino to qualify for a berth in the 2020 Summer Olympics to be held in Japan. Obiena met the Olympic Standard of 5.80 meters for men’s pole vault at the Salto Con L’asta In Piazza Chiari 2019 in Italy on September 3 and actually recorded 5.81 meters.
The 6-foot-1 Filipino pole vault champion bested five other rivals for the Chiari gold medal on his way to claiming the Olympics spot.
On his way to the Olympics berth, EJ Obiena also bagged gold at the 2019 Jump and Fly – Baxter Meeting held in Germany with a jump of 5.63 meters to win the gold medal.
The University of Santo Tomas student earlier this year broke the 26-year-old record at the Asian Athletics with a 5.71m jump in Doha, Qatar.
Obiena then claimed the World University Champion title after winning the gold with a 5.76m jump at the Napoli Summer Universiade Pole Vault Athletics.
Good News Pilipinas interviewed EJ Obiena about his mission for pole vaulting in the Philippines and the Olympics after nearly giving up on the sport following a career-threatening injury.
Good News Pilipinas (GNP): How did you celebrate your newest gold that clinched for you an Olympics berth?
Ernest John Obiena (EJO): I celebrated for a day or two having people congratulate me. It feels heart-warming and it’s amazing. My friends and family just supported me. They just called me to send me messages. Especially the people who know what I’ve been through. That’s basically how I celebrated the Olympics standard that I made.
It was sweet because people who have worked with me and trained me and everybody who supported me somehow felt achieved as well as I am, I feel. It’s like I’m bringing not just me but a team of people who actually believe in me. It’s like I’m bringing a nation. I’m bringing a university. it’s a big deal.
GNP: What was it like at that moment, when you made the successful third attempt?
EJO: When I made 580 It was pure joy. It’s just excitement. One or two seconds after it just sinks in. All the hardships I’ve been through. All the obstacles, the hiccups of the past going here is big.
It just sinked in and how much I’ve actually worked. How sweet the victory? I’ll say the height is for me. It’s just a different feeling you can’t really describe but it feels really, really good.
GNP: How are you preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?
EJO: I’m taking it step by step right now… I’ll be focusing on the SEA Games. It’s one competition at a time.
I would like to speak with our officials when I come back to the Philippines to plan ahead and plan on what we can do. What are my viable options for training purposes and training camps abroad. And hopefully, they’ll be supportive of my plans.
GNP: What is your message for the Filipino people who are rooting for you?
EJO: To everyone who has supported me and everyone who believed in me – I know the whole nation is backing me up. I would like to thank everyone. Just thank you very much for being there for me when I needed you most.
You guys pushed me and you guys carried me through hard times and cheered me when I won. It’s like a big family. This really cannot be done, it cannot be complete if it’s just me.
It’s a bunch of people doing a little bit of everything to help me reach where I am now. So I’m thankful for them. I wouldn’t be here without them.
GNP: If you are asked to describe yourself now, what would you want people and your countrymen to know about EJ Obiena?
EJO: Same old me. I want to let my fellow Filipinos know that there is pole vaulting. And I want to promote the event. and I want to show them that Filipinos are capable of being good in pole vaulting and that it can be a great source of medals for our country.
EJ Obiena is coming back to the Philippines to compete at the 30th South East Asian Games scheduled from November 30 to December 11, 2019.
WATCH EJ Obiena’s Olympic Standard performance and SEND well wishes in the comments below to our Filipino pole vault champion who will represent the Philippines at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics!
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