For EJ Obiena, there is no denying that he now belongs to the elite circle of vaulters.
After asserting his dominance against the best vaulters in the world, Obiena announced his arrival, saying that he is now getting closer to his goal of becoming one of the best vaulters in the world.
“Just like everyone else, my goal is to be the best,” said the 24-year-od Filipino who is training under the watchful eyes of Vitaly Petrov in Formia, Italy.
“I know that I belong in this elite field of athletes. That’s the main reason why I got accepted to these prestigious competitions.”
Obiena’s road to glory was littered with tears and frustrations.
He was supposed to conquer the gold medal in the 29th Southeast Asian Games when he crashed with an anterior cruciate ligament injury a day before departing for the Malaysian capital in 2018.
With his knee far from perfect form, he had a forgettable performance in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, raising doubts on his ability to make it to the Tokyo Olympics.
But the following year, Obiena pulled off a shocker when he tallied a personal-best of 5.81 meters in an Olympic-qualifying tournament in Italy.
With an Olympic spot safely on his pocket, he vindicated himself with a gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games before a massive home crowd at the New Clark City in Tarlac.
He was unstoppable since then.
As soon as the European tourneys kicked off, Obiena stood his ground against the likes of Rio de Janeiro Olympics titlist Thiago Braz of Brazil and London Games supremo Renauld Lavillenie of Frances and world champions Sam Kendricks of the United States and Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland.
His brightest moment came when he won the gold medal in the 59th Ostrava Golden Spike tournament in Czech Republic last week with a vault of 5.74 meters.
“We’re all aiming for the same thing. These guys are the best at what they are doing and they really help me a lot,” said Obiena, bracing for a dramatic encounter with world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden in the Summer Games next year.
“I’m friends with these people, they help me a lot. And we give equal respect to each and everyone when we are in the field.”
Obiena said he would not leave stone unturned in giving the Philippines its first Olympic gold medal.
“Everybody knows that I want to win, that’s the biggest thing that I want to achieve. I know what type of athlete I am, and I know what type of athlete I want to be soon,” he said.
“I know that I belong here, and I am just starting to get into this. I’m an Asian who is competing in a European field — that makes it a lot harder.”
“I just need to show it a little bit more. It’s not something that I will just keep on saying out loud.”
Date: September 16, 2020 | By: Ian Suyu | Newspaper: Tribune | Source: https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2020/09/16/ej-keeps-shining/