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EJ cherishes ‘bromance’ with Yulo


‘Caloy was the first one to congratulate me. I’m pretty sure he will be coming to Paris.’

PHILIPPINE sports’ Olympic campaign are hinged on Ernest John Obiena (top right) and Carlos Yulo (bottom center). They are seen here with fellow Olympians Nesthy Petecio (top left) and (bottom from left) Hidilyn Diaz and Eumir Felix Marcial. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Nesthy Petecio/FB

Ernest John Obiena reaped loads of congratulatory messages right after nailing the Paris Olympic berth last Monday.

But fellow Olympian and friend, gymnastics world champion Carlos Yulo, beat everyone to it.

The world No. 3 pole vaulter from Tondo, Manila said Yulo was the first to congratulate him.

Obiena hopes Yulo follows suit and together they carry the Philippine colors in the French capital next year.

“Caloy was the first one to congratulate me. I’m pretty sure he will be coming to Paris,” Obiena said, wishing Yulo the best of luck in the 52nd FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium this September.

Yulo needs to land at least in the Top 8 in individual all-around to secure a slot in the Olympics.

“I hope we can send our biggest delegation to the Olympics and it’s not impossible,” said Obiena, adding that he hopes the delegation for Paris will surpass the 17-man team from the Tokyo Olympics.

Both Obiena and Yulo are aiming for redemption in their respective sports after botched debuts in their Summer Games campaign in 2021.

“In our sports, the greats are remembered in championships in major competitions and I wanted to win as many medals as I can. There’s still a lot of things to do,” he said.

With Paris qualifying out of the way, Obiena said he now has the freedom to plot how to achieve what is seemingly impossible: Win the Olympic gold.

Obiena, 27, said he was just relieved to qualify early as he is the first Filipino to book a slot in the Summer Games after getting over the qualifying mark of 5.82 meters at the Stockholm Diamond League tournament in Sweden last Monday.

His next competition will be in the Meeting International de Sotteville-Les-Rouen in Sotteville-Les-Rouen, France on 7 July before competing in the Asian Athletics Championships from 12 to 16 July in Pattaya, Thailand.

From now on, it’s all about perfecting his skills and measuring up to pole vault giant Armand Duplantis of Sweden.

“It simplifies a lot of things. I can now plan ahead on the things we want to do and not stress about qualifying,” Obiena said.

“I think it’s a good achievement. I’m not saying I was worried per se but it was something not given.”

“I’m happy I was able to show something but I really wanted to go higher. I think I have shown the potential that I can do but I need to do it as often as I can.”

Obiena can now choose which tournaments to join in accordance to what is suitable to his program.

Competitions such as the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, and the 19th Asian Games from 23 September to 8 October in Hangzhou, China, will give Obiena a chance to get a feel of the competition before the Summer Games starts next year.

He will also be aiming for a return to the Diamond League final in Eugene, Oregon from 16 to 17 September if he earns enough points in the succeeding legs to put him in the top six finalists of the sport.

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