The road to the Paris Olympics begins next month for World Championship pole vault bronze medalist Ernest John “EJ” Obiena.
But for now, the 26-year-old Obiena takes a three-week break before he prepares again for the indoor season in Europe and his journey to qualify for the Olympics, which happens two years from now.
“It will be the last time for me to be here before Paris. We are already planning the things that we need to do,” said Obiena, who planed in yesterday to Manila with his girlfriend, Caroline Joyeux.
The 21-year-old Joyeux, who is in a relationship with the Obiena for the last three years, is also a national athlete from Berlin, Germany, dabbling in long jump, triple jump and in the 100-meter sprints. Joyeux is ranked no. 74 in the world in triple jump.
Obiena and Joyeux were picked up by the pole vaulter’s parents Emerson and Jeannette and Philippine Sports Commission personnel from the airport early Thursday and were brought to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Vito Cruz, Manila, for a courtesy call with PSC chairman Noli Eala and commissioner Bong Coo. Lawyer Bobbit Bruce, who also handles Obiena’s legal matters, was also there.
Coach Vitaly Petrov is now laying out the groundwork for his qualification, with the facilities in Formia, Italy again be the training area for Obiena, who has been away from the country for almost three years.
So far, Obiena, has accumulated eight gold medals in 16 outdoor events since May in Europe.
His last was on Monday during the Gala dei Castelli in Bellinzona, Switzerland. where he also set a new meet record, clearing 5.81 meters on his second attempt to claim his 10th overall outdoor gold medal and eighth straight podium finish.
During his amazing stretch, Obiena had a memorable performance when he pulled off a rare upset win over world champion and world no. 1. Armand “Mondo” Duplantis on Sept. 2 in the Diamond League Series meet in Brussels.
It happened when Duplantis failed to clear 5.91 meters on his third attempt during the competition, allowing Obiena to take home the gold medal for successfully making the attempt.
“When I beat Mondo, I was not supposed to beat him. So now, I understand how it works. That’s why my goal is always to win, and that’s how it’s going to be. And it’s not about how high I jump. But how I’m going to take that medal on that day. I truly believe that it’s the guy who wants it most who will likely take the medal,” said Obiena.
Obiena also reset his own Philippine record when he leaped 5.94m in the World meet in Eugene, Oregon last July.
Obiena said his visit to the RMSC brought back memories of the time he trained there.
“This is where I trained when I was young. It brings back memories and a lot has changed,” added Obiena.
The PSC chairman said Obiena’s time away from the country was big sacrifice for him.
“EJ has sacrificed many, many years being away from the Philippines and bringing honors to the country. It’s time for him to take a break and enjoy the fruits of his labor,” said Eala.
Obiena’s other gold medal wins came in the Stabhochsprungmeeting in Jockgrim, Germany, the True Athletes Classics in Leverkusen, Germany, the Saint Wendel City Jump in Sankt Wendel, Germany and the Golden Fly Series in Liechtenstein.
He had a bronze in the Athletissima in Lausanne, Switzerland and silver in ISTAF in Berlin, Germany.