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‘I'm not yet fully recovered, but I can move forward’: EJ Obiena reveals determination to forge ahead after Tokyo bid

By Hannah Mallorca Published Sep 19, 2021 7:12 pm

Despite being disappointed with his performance at the Tokyo Olympics, EJ Obiena is determined to move forward with a renewed mindset. 

In a Power & Play interview with Noel Eala, Obiena admitted that he was “down” after finishing 11th at the Olympics. He cleared 5.70-m and tried for 5.80-m, but fouled on all his jumps. 

“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. It stings,” he added.

The Filipino pole vaulter revealed that he had “a lot of questions and doubts” after his Tokyo campaign where the “disappointment stayed for a while.”

“As an athlete, that haunts you a little bit, and that questions your ability to compete, your ability to perform. That took a lot for me,” he said.

Obiena also added: "I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t really myself even in my daily life. I was doubting myself in the smallest things. I needed to assert to myself that the (Tokyo Olympics) was a fluke, that wasn’t me, that wasn’t who I am, that wasn’t what I have been working for."

The Filipino then became determined to bounce back after his performance at the Olympics. He reset his own personal record after clearing 5.91m in the 2021 Paris Diamond League.

The 25-year-old pole vaulter also shattered the 20-year Asian pole vaulting record and bagged the gold medal after clearing 5.93-m at the 2021 Golden Roof Challenge in Austria.

“I really needed this badly. There were some doubts, of course, especially after what happened in Tokyo. You ask yourself sometimes, am I actually able to do what I set out to do? That’s why this means a lot to me, more than anyone else, this means a lot to me," Obiena said.

Obiena also admitted that his recent triumphs helped in restoring his confidence in his post-Tokyo Olympics experience. “Let's just say I'm not yet fully recovered, but I can say that I can move forward and still believe in myself, that I’m actually able to perform and compete."

“So, I wouldn't say I'm recovered, I would say I’ve moved on. I could have, of course, looking back it stings a little bit. It makes you feel something inside of you, but now I can honestly say I'm happy," he added.

According to Obiena, he is set to compete at the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Championships on March 18-20, 2022. He’s also preparing for the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games and the 2022 Asian Games.

Banner and thumbnail photo from @ernestobienapv’s Instagram account