EJ Obiena receives P10M in financial boost after Asian Games gold
MANILA, Philippines — EJ Obiena received 10 million pesos from his high school alma mater, Chiang Kai Shek College, to support his campaign in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Fresh from a gold medal finish in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, the World No.2 pole vaulter was welcomed by his high school on Friday and received a check of three million pesos from the school, five million from the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. and one million each from businessmen Anson Tan and Carlos Chan.
Obiena, who is set for his second Olympic campaign, vows not to waste the support he has been receiving as flies out of the country on October 15 to start his build-up for Paris 2024.
The new Asian Games record holder, who cleared 5.9 meters in Hangzhou, is set to receive P2 million as mandated by RA 10699 or the National Athletes Benefits and Incentives Act and another million from the Philippine Olympic Committee.
He will be using the money to bring his whole team and have more logistically feasible flights for his poles as he eyes four training camps in Europe and the United States.
“We have less than a year to go for Paris and we’re planning to have four training camps before Paris. The reason for doing that is there are specific or certain places that are the best to go to. So, that will mostly be Europe. But we would do a training camp as well in the US because there’s a specific place there that… we have certain equipment that we need to use,” said Obiena during his homecoming press conference.
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The 27-year-old Olympian said he has already ordered bigger poles as he also wants to avoid his experience from the 2016 qualification, where some of his poles were damaged.
“Maybe we don’t need to fly budget airlines this time. So we can fly like normal airlines and have a little bit more luggage and probably I can travel more with my whole team. So I would not need to travel alone. Those are the biggest things that would help me moving forward,” he said.
“I’m making sure that Paris will be fool-proof. I do plan on getting bigger poles, we already ordered bigger poles before the season ends because we know the things we’re gonna work on and we’re probably jumping on these sticks.”
Most importantly, Obiena stays grounded amid all the achievements and support he has been receiving from his high school, which also helped him when his funding was cut at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This can be all taken away by one bad day. I’m an athlete, I need to be true to myself. I break a knee, I’m done. It’s a fact of life so I take this opportunity with great honor and gratitude that I’m able to be in this position such as now and to be able to win the medal. In a split second, I could be standing and in another, I could be down on the ground,” Obiena said.
“I’ve been there in 2017 I was top 30 in the world the next thing I know I’m in a wheelchair, can’t walk in a month and a half. I know how to be grounded and I know how to be understanding that all of these that I have is temporary.”
It has been a great year for Obiena as he delivered the country’s first Asian Games athletics gold since the late Lydia de Vega’s 100-meter conquest in Seoul. He also cleared six meters twice in the Bergen Jump Challenge last June and his silver medal in the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary last August.