“Mabuhay ka, EJ!”
World-ranked Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena was warmly greeted by the Philippine Sports Commission after finishing a stellar season in Europe, where he bagged six gold medals and a historic bronze.
The 26-year-old athlete arrived home on Thursday morning after registering a whopping 10 points first place finishes in his Outdoor season, highlighted by his third-place finish in the World Athletics Championships.
His feat in the World Athletics Championships marks the first time a Filipino won a medal in the biennial athletics competition.
Obiena also defeated world record holder Mondo Duplantis for the top spot in the Diamond League in Belgium.
The Filipino likewise bagged back-to-back gold medals in the Golden Fly Series in Liechtenstein and the Gala dei Castelli in Switzerland.
In an Instagram post, Obiena expressed his gratitude for overseas Filipinos who made an effort to watch his competitions in person.
“Maraming salamat po sa lahat ng sumubaybay sa aking mga laban nitong mga nakaraang linggo. Lalo na po sa mga kababayang pumunta at nanood sa aking laro. Maraming salamat po,” he wrote on Tuesday.
Following the athlete’s arrival, the PSC greeted him with a tarpaulin with the text: “Congratulations! Welcome home! Thank you for making us proud!”
“Mabuhay ka, EJ at ang #GalingngAtletangPilipino!” the commission said on a Facebook post.
It also included the hashtags “#PSCcaresforPHIsports” and “#parasainangbayan.”
Several Filipinos also congratulated the Olympian pole vaulter in the comments section.
“Welcome home EJO [EJ Obiena]. Time to see your kababayans. Hope to see you personally. Sana mag-mall tour si EJO. Sa SM branches. Paging PSC to promote sports,” a Filipino wrote.
“Thank you and more power, EJ,” another Facebook user wrote with clapping and party popper emojis.
“Next time, Olympic Gold medal na ‘yan,” exclaimed a different Pinoy with emojis of biceps, folding hands and the Philippine flag.
Obiena also defended his gold medal in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi last May, where he cracked a new meet record at 5.46m.
In the World Athletics Championships, he broke his own personal best and the Asian record with a 5.94m clearance.
The pole vaulter is looking forward to competing for the Philippines in the Paris Olympics in 2024.