EJ Obiena admits disappointment over Olympic stint

August 5, 2021 - 7:21 PM
. Ernest Obiena of the Philippines in action (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

Trying to clear up reports that he was “unsure” about joining the 2024 Summer Olympics in France, pole vaulter EJ Obiena admitted he is not satisfied with his performance at the Tokyo Olympics where he failed to make the podium.

The 25-year-old athlete on Wednesday said he did work his way to Tokyo just to “experience the Olympics.”

“It was just reported that I am ‘unsure’ or ‘not keen’ on competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics. My comments were taken out of context and have created an uncertainty and distraction to our country’s amazing Olympic performance,” Obiena wrote on Facebook.

“I did not come to Tokyo 2020 Olympics to experience the Olympics. I did not come to just ‘make the final.’ I came to win a medal for my country. This goal was not achieved. I hold myself to high standards. I am thus, understandably upset, disappointed, and reflecting so I can learn and improve myself,” he added.

Obiena’s comments came after news agencies reported he was not keen on participating in the next Olympics after he failed to clear 5.8 meters at the finals event.

The former University of Santo Tomas track star was allowed another attempt when he protested before the Olympic officials that there was a discrepancy involving the timing device and the moving bar.

The day after the competition, Obiena appeared in an interview where he admitted that he was “still digesting” what happened in the finals. He also answered queries about his possible involvement in Paris 2024.

“I was asked a question about the 2024 Olympics. A highly difficult question to answer at this time. I am still digesting what happened here in Tokyo. I am not, at this time, thinking about the 2024 Olympics. My mistake was in trying to be accommodating to the press at a time that I am still distracted by what transpired in the pole vault final,” he said on Facebook after.

Obiena said he still loves pole vaulting, representing the Philippines and competing.

“I still know I can win. You can draw your own conclusions from this. I will be back, and I will be back to win. But I want some time to digest the events of the past week, and especially the past 24 hours,” he further said.

Strong support at home

Filipinos were quick to share their support in the comments sections as they assured the athlete that his stint was not a waste, especially since he was the only Asian in the finals.

“You still brought glory to your country, Ernest Obiena. We appreciate what you have done for us. Representing each and everyone of us on the biggest stage in sports; that alone is an honor. Thank you EJ, and we know you will be back hungrier than ever!” a Facebook user wrote.

“Whether you come back to the sport or take on another, is totally up to you. You’ve done your part and we know you did your absolute best in Tokyo and that’s more than enough for the country. You can say tomorrow that you no longer want to do pole vault and that’s totally ok. You’re not bound to it just because you’re in it already. You do you! We’re all very proud!” another online user said.

“EJ, you are still our champion! We are so proud of you for being the lone Asian competitor, Pinoy at that, in this Olympic sport event!” a different Filipino likewise exclaimed.

“Great job, EJ! I didn’t even know this sport until I saw you represent our country. You’re promoting the Philippines and the sport you love. That’s a win!” another Facebook user wrote.

Obiena previously opened up about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected his mental health during training at a time when he was miles away from his family.

“You feel even more isolated. You feel alone (during) certain times,” he was quoted as saying before.

He had trained in Italy in preparation for the Games.