December 02, 2023

Asian Games flagbearer EJ Obiena admits feeling sting of long season, but stays ready for regional tilt

Asian Games flagbearer EJ Obiena admits feeling sting of long season, but stays ready for regional tilt
EJ Obiena

On Monday, pole vault sensation EJ Obiena and skateboarding master Margielyn Didal were named Philippine flagbearers for the Asian Games.

Prior to the announcement, Obiena finished the Wanda Diamond League with a silver on the same day, bringing home another medal in this pole vault season. With all his breakthroughs this year, the pride of Tondo jumped from third to second in the world rankings a couple of months ago.

The 27-year-old athlete, however, sounds like he is feeling the burden of playing in so many competitions.

“It’s been a long season. World Championships, Southeast Asian Games, Asian Championship. I’ve had probably the busiest schedule out of all the vaulters at this time,” he told News5.  

Unlike his peers, who are now wrapping up their seasons, EJ has to fly to Hangzhou, China on Tuesday for the Asian Games to fulfill his pole vaulting and flagbearing duties.  

He has long committed to compete for the flag in Asiad, and despite the hectic schedule, he’s not sweating it.

“I love competition, I love competing. I enjoy battling it out with these guys. Of course, I love to win as well,” said Obiena.

Still, the Filipino pole vaulter recognizes he has to take good care of his body, which he has been pushing to the limit thus far.

“[The Asian Games is] an opportunity for me to take advantage of, but of course, I need to be smart about it,” he said.

The University of Santo Tomas engineering student said that he is thankful for his coach and team, who are making sure that he stays within his athletic peak without overloading his body.  

“I’m exhausted already, I feel tired, but I wanna keep my word, but I’m still ready [for the Asiad], I’m still good, I’m still OK,” he elaborated.

As this upcoming tilt belongs to the Asian landscape, the public sometimes have higher expectations. Obiena dropped a few words of wisdom to respond to that pressurewhich other members of the Philippine delegation might also find helpful as the Asiad draws near. 

“Pressure is big, when pressure is big that means there’s lot at stake. Definitely, when there’s a lot at stake, history could be made. I think that’s the beauty of it. For me, I would always want to just remind every athlete that pressure is a privilege,” he said.

(With reports from Martie Bautista, News5)