Ej Obiena had doubts about his pole vaulting capabilities after failing to bring home a title in Tokyo Olympics last month, but now he is looking past it and ready to move on.

/ 20 September 2021

The 25-year old Obiena shared with PBA Commissioner Noli Eala on Power and Play that his experience in Tokyo was a painful one for he was not able to meet the expectations he set for himself. 

“It always stings. Looking back to that day, it stings. I set out to do something historic, something I do believe, and what these past couple of weeks showed, I’m capable of doing.” Obiena said.

After Obiena’s defeat, questions lingered on him as to what exactly happened to him and he felt that he was not able to bring his A-game performance.

“Those things, as an athlete, that haunts you a little bit, and that questions your ability to compete, your ability to perform,” he explained.

“That took a lot for me. I wasn’t myself, I would say, after that… Even in my daily life, it affected me. I was doubting myself in the smallest things, and I’m like, this is just not right.” 

Nevertheless, Obiena did not stop there and redeemed himself, placing fifth at the Lausanne leg of the Diamond League, and breaking a 23-year-old Asian record as he recorded a 5.93-meter mark in the 2021 Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria, where he also bagged the gold.

“I needed to try, I needed to assert to myself and prove it to myself, that that was a fluke. What happened there, that was a fluke. That wasn’t me, that wasn’t who I am, that’s not what I have been working for,” Obiena averred.

Obiena also shared that his recent victories mean a lot to him, “more than anyone else” and how he needed it ‘badly’ after losing his spirit for a moment of what happened in Tokyo, asking his own capabilities saying that “am I actually able to do what I set out to do?”

And despite his Tokyo Olympics experience being still a painful one, he shared that he has not yet fully recovered but can now finally move on.

“Let’s just say I’m not fully recovered. But I can say I can look forward, I can move forward and still believe in myself, that I’m actually able to perform and compete,” Obiena pointed out.

“I know I have a good future moving forward to this sport, and I think that’s something that I really needed badly, after that, as you said, fluke in Tokyo.”

In the meantime, there has been no scheduled competition for Obiena this year as he was taking time to rest and preparing for the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games, and the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Championships that will take place on March 18-20 in Belgrade, Serbia.