POLE vaulter EJ Obiena, the first of two Filipino athletes who have so far booked a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is not looking too far ahead, opting to focus on the 30th SEA Games in December.
Obiena, 23, said qualifying for the Summer Games is “more of a dream coming true.”
But he said in yesterday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Amelie Hotel Manila that his eyes are on the coming SEA Games, which the country is hosting for the fourth time.
With a current best of 5.81 meters, which is ranked 10th in the world, the 6-foot-2 Obiena should be the favorite to win the gold in the SEA Games, where Thailand’s Porranot Purahon is the reigning champion with an effort of 5.35 meters in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.
“I may have the slight edge but it’s a competition. Anything can happen. Hopefully, I can be the one standing on top of the podium holding the Philippine flag,” Obiena said in the public sports program presented by San Miguel Corp., Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel and Pagcor.
The pole vault competition is set Dec. 7 at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, the main hub of the bienniel event.
“What I can do is do what I can,” said Obiena, who was accompanied to the forum by his parents, Emerson (a silver and bronze medalist in the 1995 and 2005 SEA Games) and Jeanette.
“I will do my best to win the SEA Games gold. It’s our home country. It’s going to be a shame if I lose and I know that,” said Obiena, fully recovered from an ACL injury he suffered just days before the 2017 SEA Games.
“The Thais are really good, the Malaysian and the young Indonesian. You’ll never know,” he said.