EJ Obiena brings high self-belief heading into Paris Olympics preps | Inquirer Sports

EJ Obiena brings high self-belief heading into Paris Olympics preps

/ 03:35 PM October 07, 2023

Gold medalist Philippines' Ernest John Obiena celebrates on the podium during the victory ceremony for the men's pole vault at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China,

Gold medalist Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena celebrates on the podium during the victory ceremony for the men’s pole vault at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

MANILA, Philippines — Determined to bounce back in the 2024 Paris Olympics, EJ Obiena is leaving no stone unturned as he begins his preparation next week.

Obiena, the first Filipino, athlete to qualify for Paris, is eager to continue reaching greater heights after a stellar year.


“The motivation, I would say, is still the same. It doesn’t really change. It’s not that I’m not thankful, it’s just that it doesn’t matter what happens, I’m gonna go and give it my all. It just empowers me to be able to do what is necessary and be able to maximize the time that I have…I think I’m in a very good space, very good environment to produce something historic,” Obiena said in his homecoming press conference at Chiang Kai Shek College on Friday.


The World No.2 pole vaulter won the Asian Games gold to add to his achievements in 2023 which include the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia, a silver in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in Hungary, where he cleared six meters, and a couple of podium finishes this season.

“I’ve said last year that I wanna win the Asian Games, I wanna win the Southeast Asian Games and at least bronze in the worlds. Going in this year, we achieved that and actually got better. We got a silver medal finish in the worlds. And we jumped six meters which I also said I would do,” he said. “Obviously, the self-belief that I have right now is very high. And I think I need to just keep safe and be healthy and continue to trust my coach and continue the regimen we have.”

The 27-year-old Obiena crashed out of the Top 10 in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics two years ago as he wound up in 11th place, failing to clear 5.80 meters in three attempts.

EJ Obiena during his homecoming at Chiang Kai Shek College.

EJ Obiena during his homecoming at Chiang Kai Shek College. –LANCE AGCAOILI

His disappointing Olympic debut made him stronger and hungrier to deliver his promise to the Philippines when he sees action in Paris next year.

“The main reason I’m still here was I felt like I failed the Filipino people in 2021. I didn’t come there to sightsee and watch other guys outvault me. I came there to win a medal, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do it. Therefore, I decided I wanna go another four-year cycle and the commitment that I had, the promise that I had to the Filipino people is until 2024,” Obiena said. “I would hope that I’ll be able to fulfill what I came out to do and be able to do what I can. And if that’s gonna be the case, I believe I can bring home a medal.”

Obiena said he learned a lot from his stellar 2023 season, putting a premium on mental strength. And he displayed just that when he competed in the World Athletics Championships two weeks after he recovered from COVID-19.


“Going to the World Championship, I got COVID a week before it was pretty much like down in my head like “Why is this happening now? This is the biggest meet for me of the year, competing against the best of the best in the World and why am I getting COVID?” So going in there. I didn’t really know what I was capable of doing. It was just a moment of I needed to compete to the best of my abilities. I don’t think, physically, I was in the best condition at that time,” the Filipino pole vaulter said.

“Being able to do what I did there and jumped my personal best [and] set a new Asian record, definitely gave me confidence. More than half of the time, it’s a mental game. And having that leap moving forward it’s big in trusting yourself,” he added.

Obiena will have four training camps in Europe and United States as he begins his road to Paris starting on October 15.

Obiena, who set a new Asian Games record of 5.90 meters, admitted he wanted to clear six meters in Hangzhou but he failed to do it in front of 80,000 spectators.

“The plan is to get better. You guys saw the video of the Asian Games. They looked all kind of different. That’s not consistency right there. And it’s high, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not consistent and consistency would be the best position to win so there’s a lot of things I need to work on,” Obiena said.

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“With my speed and strength, it could always be improved. With my mental game, there’s always room for improvement there. Those are the little things that we’ll try to tweak and moving forward, trying to improve. Training camps would just empower the outcomes and possibilities when it comes to certain points.”

TAGS: 2024 Paris Olympics, EJ Obiena, Paris Olympics

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