President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. rallied behind Ernest John Obiena, saying that the government will do everything it can to help him win a gold medal in the Paris Olympics.
In a courtesy call at the Malacañang Palace on Friday, the 26-year-old Obiena drew the support of the Chief Executive, who thanked him for his hard work and sacrifices that brought pride and glory to the country in the international arena.
Joining Obiena in meeting the President were Philippine Sports Commission chairman Jose Emmanuel “Noli” Eala, executive director Atty. Guillermo Iroy, executive assistant Paul Ycasas, and Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association president Terry Capistrano.
They were received by Presidential Management Staff chief Zenaida Angping, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and President Marcos.
It was the second time for President Marcos to open the door of Malacanang for a Filipino athlete since getting elected last May.
The first time was in July when the national women’s football team ruled the AFF Women’s Championship, which served as its ticket to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand next year.
“From your President, and I think from the rest of the Philippines, we thank you for everything you have done, for bringing pride and glory to the country,” President Marcos said.
“I think that is the greatest tribute you can give, the greatest service, as an athlete now that you can give to our country is to bring honor to the Philippines.”
Eala, for his part, thanked the Chief Executive for inspiring Obiena and other Filipino athletes to do well in the international stage.
“President Bongbong Marcos is a true sportsman and supporter of sport,” he said in a tweet shortly after the courtesy call.
“Warmly welcomed the PSC and EJ Obiena. He gave a very simple, clear instructions — let’s help our athletes because what they do is important to our nation. Thank you, Mr. President.”
The PSC’s all-out support in his foreign training had propelled Obiena from being an ordinary athlete to becoming the world’s No. 3 pole vaulter behind world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden and Chris Nilsen of the United States.
Although he faltered in the Tokyo Olympics, he bounced back this year as he clinched the country’s first medal — a bronze — in the World Athletics Championships in Oregon with a record-breaking performance of 5.94 meters.
He also beat Duplantis in the Brussels Diamond League, making him one of the favorites to win a medal in the Paris Olympics in 2024.
President Marcos said the government will fully support him in his journey to become the second Filipino gold medalist in the Summer Games.
“We look forward to the Games in Paris, I hope you do well,” Marcos said.
“If there’s anything that we can do to help you so that you would get better results, just tell me since what you are doing is important.”
“So, thank you very much and I congratulate not only you, but also those who have supported our champion.”
Obiena is set to wrap up his three-week visit to the country in the coming days to resume his training in Formia, Italy under the guidance of noted mentor Vitaly Petrov of Ukraine.
and Michelle Guillang