When EJ Obiena broke a two-decade-old Asian record Saturday evening in Austria, it was a result of a combined effort from the athlete, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, and the Philippine Sports Commission.
Long-time PATAFA president congratulated the 29-year-old standout in topping the long-standing Asian record set of 5.92 meters by Igor Potapovich of Kazakhstan in Dijon, France.*
“I would also like to cite the continuing substantial financial and administrative and moral support of the Philippine Sports Commission and Chairman Butch Ramirez and the PSC Commissioners,” Juico added.
“The PSC has been readily extending over the past five years all these assistance despite being confronted by its own challenges and by uninformed critics. Such assistance was coursed through the PATAFA which transparently administers these funds such as the fees of Obiena’s coach, Vitaly Petrov, reputedly the doyen of pole vault coaching. Vitaly was personally recommended by another pole vault icon, Sergey Bubka, compatriot of Petrov, at my request in 2014.”
Juico also thanked the Ayala Corporation for lending a big hand in 2017-18 to the pole vaulter after some personal discussions with its top officials including Jaime Augusto Zobel himself.
The renowned sports executive also took pride in his national sports association’s thrust in helping its athletes.
“A major part of the total teamwork came from PATAFA itself, which has the following exclusive mandate: to care for our elite athletes, to help them become the best in their respective events, and to further develop the athletics sport in the country, all to be pursued however following the tenets of good governance,” he said.
Juico furthered that Obiena’s performance improvement and in his skills are due largely to coach Petrov’s technical adjustments. “Even minor and subtle adjustments, unnoticed by ordinary laymen like us, can become a game-changer and turning point at the highest level of a very technical and formidable event like pole vault,” he continued.
“These changes make a big difference in an individual event like pole vault. You can only depend on yourself and on no one else’s execution of that person’s role as is the case in team sports. We believe Obiena is working towards consistency in his performance and a more robust mental toughness plan of action. “
Obiena will compete in the Internationales Stadionfest (ISTAF) competition in Berlin, Germany on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. in Manila), and Juico and the rest of the country hope for another outstanding performance.
*Note: that this record from the Kazakh great was not the record included in the lists from both the Asian Athletics Association and World Athletics, but instead the same height set indoors in Stockholm, Sweden.