Going higher and beyond the 5.8-meter range will be among the initial goals of Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, following his arrival in Tokyo last Friday.
Now that the 25-year-old Obiena is in possession of his three sets of poles, which reached last Saturday, he will now try to overcome his worries as he gets into his practice sessions.
“I thought I was gonna be super-excited when I go to the Olympics. But I’m now more worried about COVID-19, just like I wanna be there. But, of course I’m happy to be here. I always wanted to have a shot (at his Olympic dream),” said Obiena in a virtual huddle with scribes on Zoom.
Obiena, who talked about his goals with Filipino-American sprinter Kristina Marie Knott, said his three new set of poles will now allow him to have an opportunity to perform consistently and seek higher clearances.
With a new and more rigid pole mixed in with two older ones, Obiena feels that he can breach 5.9 meters this time round.
“I know I can jump 6.0 meters. I’m not sure how I got it dialled in. I’ve seen how well I can jump, and I’ve seen what I’m capable of, and make sure that I bring that in the game,” added Obiena.
Obiena, who will plunge into action on July 31, said he will have to get into this range during the qualification round.
In the months leading to the Tokyo Olympics, Obiena stayed in the best shape possible.
Obiena has not gone back home to the Philippines for 17 months now since he went home to see action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
But Obiena never stopped preparing and competing while in Europe.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and caused the postponement of the Olympics last year, Obiena got the best help he needed.
Living and training in Italy’s Olympic Committee training center in Formia kept him sharp and focused on his goals.
Reunited with his father, Emerson, since his arrival at the Olympics, Obiena knows that there’s a lot of pressure competing at such a high level.
“Mataas talaga ang pressure sa laban na ito. This is the Olympics. You are competing with the best of the best,” said the elder Obiena, who will assist EJ’s coach Vitaly Petrov during the competition this week.