Warm welcome awaits Obiena

EJ Obiena is set to meet PSC chairman Jose Emmanuel ‘Noli’ Eala as soon as he arrives in Manila. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF EJ OBIENA/IG

September 15, 2022

World No. 3 pole vaulter will be brandishing the six gold medals that he won while on a tour of European tournaments when he gets around Manila for a well-deserved short vacation.

Obiena, who topped six of eight meets he took part in starting in the third week of August until just a few days back, was expected to set foot on Philippine soil Wednesday.

The 6-foot-2 Obiena, who has been based in Formia, Italy the last several years, is coming off a victory in the Gala dei Castelli in Bellinzona, Switzerland.

Obiena did a meet record of 5.81 meters and beat no less than world No. 2 Chris Nilsen.

Before storming the European circuit, Obiena took the bronze medal in the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, last July.

The highlight of Obiena’s string of success in Europe happened in the Diamond League in Brussels on 1 September where he upstaged world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden.

In that meet, Obiena sailed past 5.91 meters on his third attempt while Duplantis, who boasts of a world record 6.21-meter best, failed in three tries to get over 5.91.

As this develops, Obiena will likely sit with the new leadership of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association one of these days, according to Patafa secretary general Edward Kho.

The Patafa is now manned by Terry Capistrano, who is expected to discuss with the famed athlete what’s down the road.

“I’m so sure he’ll get in touch with us but we’ll be giving him space to sort out his intended itinerary. It will be hard for him if he will be swamped by people after a grueling season,” Kho said.

“We’ll let him find time for his schedule. We would rather not insist on that because we understand the schedule he has been through overseas.”

Though they haven’t talked about it yet, the Patafa will be looking forward to seeing Obiena defend his Southeast Asian Games title when Phnom Penh hosts the biennial meet in May 2023.
There’s also the all-important Hangzhou Asian Games in September.

The 26-year-old Obiena is set to have a courtesy call with Philippine Sports Commission chairman Jose Emmanuel “Noli” Eala on Thursday before gracing the Philippine Olympic Committee executive committee meeting on Friday.

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