'I really needed this badly': Obiena on setting new national, Asian records

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
'I really needed this badly': Obiena on setting new national, Asian records
Philippines' Ernest John Obiena competes in the men's pole vault final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021.
AFP / Ben Stansall

MANILA, Philippines — EJ Obiena has recovered nicely in the pole vault season a little over a month after his less-than-satisfactory performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Bouncing back from his 11th place finish in The Games, Obiena has since rewrote the national pole vault record twice and smashed a 23-year-old Asian record.

All this in just his sixth competition after the Olympics where he also clinched a gold medal.

His record breaking clearance of 5.93m in the Golden Roof Challenge in Austria, Obiena says, was of the utmost importance to his career.

Though it might not be that big of a deal to his supporters, Obiena couldn't undermine the effect the great results had on him after the disappointment in The Games.

"I think it's important for me, I wouldn't say if it's as important for everyone else... It's really important for me, especially after what happened in Tokyo," admitted Obiena during Noli Eala's radio show Power & Play on Saturday.

"I just needed to have some kind of sign that I'm actually capable, that I'm actually okay, I'm actually good, that I'm actually able to do all of this," he added.

Obiena was admittedly downcast after his performance in Tokyo, where he couldn't make a case for the podium despite ranking among the best in the world in the sport.

Putting high expectations for himself and missing the mark, the 25-year-old needed to eke out good results shortly after just so he could believe in himself again.

"I was down after Tokyo, questioning what happened. Why was I not performing as well as I should have [and] I believe I could have? That haunts me," said Obiena.

"I needed to measure that I can actually pull this off and I want to have some sense of accomplishment with this season because the biggest competition was Tokyo and it wasn't pleasant. Therefore I really needed this badly," he added.

Now, clearing unprecedented heights in his career, Obiena can safely say he still has what it takes.

"That's why it means a lot to me, more than anyone else," he said.

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