Aside from EJ Obiena making it to the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Men’s Pole Vault finals, his pair of socks featuring SpongeBob and Patrick Star earned the spotlight on Tuesday, August 3.
Competing at the pinnacle of any sports competition comes with a baggage of pressure, so EJ wore a mismatched pair of socks to give him comfort.
“I take myself a little bit too seriously because this is a competition, this is something that seems like something very serious,” said Obiena in the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association press conference, a day after the competition.
“At the end of the day, it’s a sport, it’s a game. I should enjoy it, I should not take it too seriously, that’s why I put on those socks as a reminder to not think about it too much. Enjoy, have fun,” Obiena added.
Given a chance, he would have wanted to wear socks inspired by anime My Hero Academia or Naruto, but regulations didn’t allow him to buy one.
Despite this, the two Nickelodeon characters were well welcomed by Filipino viewers.
“It’s the socks that sold it for me tho,” a Twitter user said with a Philippine flag emoji.
“Great run EJ! Now, can I have your socks,” another online user wrote with a pleading face emoji and right-pointing backhand and left-pointing backhand index.
“SpongeBob socks ratioed the whole Olympics,” another one wrote in a post.
“Let’s take a moment to appreciate EJ Obiena’s socks. Deserved their own gold medal tbh #Olympics,” an online user said in a post.
Even House Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list) noticed the funky socks worn by the Olympian and cheered, “Go, go, go EJ Obiena! Ang cute ng socks po.”
Another social media user congratulated Obiena for his performance and noticed that Obiena’s socks may have been a reference in an episode of “SpongeBob Squarepants”, where SpongeBob and Patrick compete in a pole vault-like competition.
— 알렉산더 || Alexander (@ayekxanderr) August 4, 2021
— Mark Villeza 🇵🇭 (@0523_mark) August 3, 2021
If you’re also looking for the same pair of socks worn by the pole vaulter, Lifestyle brand H&M Philippines confirmed that it is from its collection in collaboration with SpongeBob.
— H&M Philippines (@hmphilippines) August 3, 2021
Obiena failed to bring home a medal after falling short to hurdle the 5.80 meters.