Sports

From 11th at Olympics to 5th in World Rankings, EJ Obiena Is Bouncing Back 

He's back on his feet.
IMAGE JEROME ASCAÑO
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It’s always a welcome sight to see athletes win golds, take first place, and come out on top. But it’s equally mesmerizing to watch them rise, falter, then get back up again. That’s what we’re seeing as EJ Obiena, the Philippines’ best pole-vaulter in history, is bouncing back from his 11th place finish at the Tokyo Olympics and is performing better than ever. 

At the Paris meet of the Wanda Diamond League, EJ Obiena reset the national record when he achieved his personal best after clearing 5.91 meters. He then attempted to clear 5.96 meters and 6.01 meters, but was unable to go higher. Nevertheless, it was enough to win second place, just behind the 2020 Olympic gold medalist and current world champion Armand Duplantis. 

Obiena beat 2020 silver medalist Christopher Nilsen, who placed third, as well as all of his fellow finalists at the Olympics. Following Obiena’s major win, he has climbed the world rankings and is currently the fifth best pole-vaulter in the world. 

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On Instagram, Obiena exclaimed, “I needed this! Badly!” The win was no doubt a confidence boost for Obiena, who was visibly upset following his Olympic performance. 

Obiena shared on social media, “It has been a hard pill to swallow that I wasn’t able to perform to the best of my abilities on the day I needed it most. It’s even harder to just say “it is what it is” and bad days come and go.”

As spectators all saw, Obiena floundered at Tokyo, only achieving 5.70 meters when his personal best at the time was already at 5.87 meters. The nerves clearly got to him, and in the press interviews after the pole vault finals, he said he was unsure if he would still compete in the 2024 Olympics. But it was simply afterevent jitters because not even two months after the Olympics, Obiena is back on his feet.

For breaking the national record--again--Obiena will be awarded P250,000 as Section 8 of the Republic Act 10699 or the expanded National Athletes, Coaches, and Trainers Benefits and Incentives Act of 2001, states that “national athletes and other athletes who surpass Philippine record or ranking in any measurable international sports competition shall be given cash incentives, the amount of which may be determined by the PSC.” This is on top of the P500,000 he will be awarded for being a part of the Philippines’ “Golden Olympics.”

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Anri Ichimura
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