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Home sweet home for EJ Obiena

World-class pole vaulter EJ Obiena is finally back home after three years of training and competing abroad.

EJ Obiena is welcomed by mother Jeanette. (PSC Images)

Obiena arrived Thursday morning, Sept. 15, with German girlfriend Caroline Joyeux to a get much-needed rest following a busy 2022 season that saw him win multiple gold medals.

“I’m staying here for maybe three weeks… This is my time to spend it with my family and really have a break,” Obiena said during his courtesy call with Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Noli Eala with parents Jeanette and Emerson.

(From left) EJ Obiena with mother, Jeanette, girlfriend Caroline Joyeux and father Emerson (PSC Images)

Obiena said this would be his last vacation for now as he is concentrating on another busy 2023 season which serves as his preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

He is training under Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov in Formia, Italy.

“Next year there’s going to be a lot of championships,” Obiena said.

Among those lined up for him are the Asian Indoor Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, the Asian Athletics Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, the Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and the World Championship in Budapest, Hungary.

In between those major tournaments are events in the World Athletics calendar.

Obiena said he needs to stay hungry and win as many tournaments as he can.

“I think it’s never always in the bag (to perform the best). But my goal is to win. I believe the guy who wants it most wins the medal,” Obiena said.

Meanwhile, Eala lauded the sacrifice and dedication of Obiena as he is one of the faces that show how Filipino athletes can be world-class through support and funding.

“This is exactly the kind of momentum we need in Philippine sports,” Eala said.

“They will provide us with an impetus to really look for more support for Philippine sports. These are the people who are now the faces of Philippine Sports that I think we should rally around, including the private sector.”

It has been a successful indoor and outdoor season for Obiena. He won two titles in the indoor season – the Orlen Cup in Lodz and the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun both in Poland.

His outdoor season proved more fruitful as he reaped 10 titles overall including the 31st Southeast Asian Games and the Memorial Van Damme Wanda Diamond League in Brussels, Belgium where he beat world No. 1 Mondo Duplantis.

Of the 10 titles, he won six in his second European season.

He also clinched a historic bronze medal in the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon last July where he posted a new national and Asian record of 5.94m.

Winning more medals is one thing, but reaching the elusive 6.00-meter height is also part of his specific goals. He has been doing so in the latter part of his European season, but has been unsuccessful.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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