EJ on SEAG: My duty as athlete


WINNING gold in Cambodia next month won’t help Ernest John “EJ” Obiena’s Paris Olympics campaign a bit, but the world No. 3 pole vaulter still vowed to go for the mint at all cost.

“It’s very important for the Philippines to win the gold,” Obiena told BusinessMirror by internet call on Tuesday night from his training camp in Alicante, Spain. “Is it very important for my world ranking? It doesn’t reflect at all, but it is very important to Team Philippines and the standings in the SEA [Southeast Asian] Games,” Obiena said.

Obiena is back-to-back defending champion in men’s pole vault in the SEA Games which Cambodia is hosting for the first time from May 5 to 17.

Unlike Olympic weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo and world gymnastics champion Carlos Yulo who are joining Olympic qualifying tournaments also in May, Obiena’s schedule allows him to fly to Phnom Penh and showcase his world-class act.

The SEA Games, the 27-year-old Obiena said, will warm him up for the outdoor season that starts in June—the same month which kicks off the Olympic qualifying window for athletics.

“It’s important for Team Philippines in the medal standings and for the Patafa [Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association],” Obiena said. “I also expect the opposition, especially Thailand, to come out with improvement in Cambodia.”

Obiena moved camp from his base from Formia to Ciudad Deportiva Camilo Cano La Nucia in Alicante because of the cold Italian weather.

“It’s 25 to 27 [degrees Celsius] here in Alicante which is ideal for training,” he said.

He is accompanied in Spain by long-time trainer and coach, legendary Ukrainian Vitaly Petrov, masseuse Francesco Viscusi and physio Antonio Guglietta.

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