EJ Obiena eyes three-week ‘disconnect’ before Olympic podium quest
Ernest John Obiena will take time out to rest and reconnect with family and friends—maybe even hit the beach really soon.
It’s his last chance before embarking on a bold mission that he hopes will end on the podium of the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“[The journey] begins with rest right now. This is going to be my last unwinding,” Obiena said on Thursday after arriving in the country. “I’m really [going to] zone out, a step away from that day-to-day mundane nomadic [life] that I need to live.’’
The world’s No. 3 pole vaulter is in town for the next three weeks. After that, it’s back to the trenches again, away from home.
“[Coach] Vitaly [Petrov] said this is going to be my last time going here before Paris. He already planned the things we need to do. Hopefully, we stick to it and manage everything going to Paris,’’ said Obiena.
Beginning next month until the Paris Summer Games in August 2024, there will be no rest for the country’s track and field star, even during the Christmas holidays, as the Ukrainian Petrov has already mapped out a clear battle plan for Paris.
As things stand, the current Asian record holder is already considered a medal contender in the Olympics following his bronze finish in the World Athletics Championships in Oregon behind world champion Armand Duplantis and Chris Nilsen.
Obiena finally achieved a breakthrough when he pocketed the gold medal in the Diamond League held in Brussels, handing Duplantis, the world record holder and Olympic champion, his lone loss for the season.
“No more tournaments for me this year. Right now we’re waiting for the calendar and deliberate on the tournaments where I will participate. I’m not yet qualified [in Paris], we will know it by May [next year],’’ said Obiena.
Obiena is coming off a stretch where he won six gold medals from eight tournaments he joined in Europe before returning home after three years.
He paid a courtesy call to Philippine Sports Commission Chair Noli Eala, who vowed to fully support Obiena’s Olympic dream and smoothen the process of extending financial help to the pole vaulter and his team, a sticky point that led to a full-blown controversy last year.
“We have discussed all the things that EJ will need and we already have a verbal agreement. We will make sure his problems in the past won’t happen again,’’ said Eala.
“This will be about his coaches, his team in particular. I also asked him some of the training that he does so we can transfer some of the technology here in the Philippines. These are all we have taken up, including some opportunities for our other athletes,’’ added Eala.
Before his much-awaited vacation in a beach somewhere in the country, Obiena is set to pay a courtesy call to Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino, meet with Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Terry Capistrano and will also appear before the Senate.
“I’m planning to go somewhere in some islands in the Philippines to really just disconnect. It’s been three years that I haven’t had an off-season. This is my time to spend with my family and really have a break. I’m still human,’’ said Obiena.