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19th Asian Games

EJ Obiena surprised by warm reception received from Chinese fans

Obiena received a significant boost during his recently concluded Asian Games campaign from an unexpected source.

Despite initially expecting the opposite reaction from the largely Chinese crowd of 80,000 at the Hangzhou Olympics Centre Stadium, the Asian Record holder was met with cheers that aided him in conquering the bar at every height he attempted.

“Going in, they were hosting the country, and there were Chinese competitors in the competition,” Obiena explained during his homecoming press conference at Chiang Kai Shek College, where he attended school from prep to high school.

“I had this thought in my head that I needed to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which was going head-to-head with a local athlete and potentially getting booed by 80,000 people. I needed to visualize that scenario and still be able to perform.”

His training partners, Huang Bokai and Yao Jie, carried the hometown hopes for the gold, but Obiena also received applause from the crowd at his request.

“To my surprise, the total opposite happened, with 80,000 people clapping at my signal.

“I was instructing them to clap to a certain rhythm, and they followed along. I can’t express how amazing that felt; it’s the largest stadium I’ve ever been in and the biggest crowd I’ve asked to support my jumps, and they did. I’m truly honored to have experienced it,” he added.

Ultimately, he cleared 5.90 meters for the gold and set a new Asian Games record. He also attempted a new Asian record at 6.20 meters, with the crowd’s support, but that mark will have to wait for now.

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In recognition of his achievement at the Asian Games, Obiena received a P10-million windfall from the Filipino-Chinese community. He received P3 million from the CKSC board of trustees, P5 million from the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce, P1 million from businessman Anton Tan, and P1 million from Ambassador Carlos Chan, the owner of Oishi Philippines.

The Paris Olympics-bound athletics standout is also expected to receive P2 million as mandated by RA 10699 or the National Athletes Benefits and Incentives Act.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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