When EJ Obiena shattered the Southeast Asian Games record in pole vault last December 7, he took a piece of paper out of his pocket. It read:
“It’s been a while. We’ve been training for this for six years. Finally, I did it on my home soil. My first gold in SEA Games. I won a world medal, Asian medal, and now a SEA games medal,” said the 6-foot-2 athlete, who is bound for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m vindicated, finally.”
The last six years have been a roller-coaster ride for the second-generation athlete.
After winning silver in the 2015 SEAG in Singapore, the expectations were that Obiena would win gold in 2017. However, his long preparation went for naught, as he tore his left ACL a day before his flight.
His road to recovery was tougher.
Everyday doubts that he could fully recover crept into his mind. But instead of turning back, Obiena pushed forward.
And in the 2019 Universaide last July, the fruits of his labor paid off. Obiena won gold in Naples, Italy with a national record-breaking leap of 5.95m — and punched his ticket to the Olympics.
Nine months later, he made sure to put on a show for his people at the cavernous NCC Athletics Stadium in Capas, Tarlac.
“Filipino people were mad amazing today. You made me jump high.
“It’s been very elusive for me. Now holding the record finally, I think it’s God’s will. Right now, I’m just having a good time,” he continued.
The work is not yet over for Obiena, as he now shifts his focus on the Olympics. Obiena also vows that his show is just getting started and is still far from its climax.
“Everything wasn’t really clicking. My legs are still heavy. I’m not yet peaking,” he said before going back to Italy.
“I’m just happy to win it.”
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