By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA — Ernest John “EJ” Obiena on Tuesday said he will still compete at his best when the Southeast Asian Games pole vault competition takes place on Dec. 7 at the New Clark City Athletic Center in Capas, Tarlac.
This, despite him tagged as the heavy favorite to win it all after qualifying for the Olympics in an event in Italy recently.
“I may have the slight edge but it’s a competition. Anything can happen,” Obiena said during the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Amelie Hotel on Tuesday.
Obiena breached the 5.80-meter cutoff for the Olympic pole vault event in Tokyo next year by completing a 5.81-meter leap in Italy, which is way better than Thai rival Porranot Purahon’s gold medal clinching 5.35 meters in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
Obiena, however, is aware that Purahon is still keen on keeping the championship, especially that he is now aware of his performance in Italy as well as other contenders for the gold.
“The Thais are really good, the Malaysian and the young Indonesian. You’ll never know,” he said.
“Hopefully I can be the one standing on top of the podium holding the Philippine flag,” he added.
But right now, he is thankful that even though he is still recovering completely from an anterior cruciate ligament injury he got last year, he accomplished his goal of reaching the Olympics and become the top contender for the SEA Games gold.
“I’m very thankful for this year that I was able to achieve the standard with this situation that I have,” Obiena added. (PNA)