EJ Obiena’s gold medal performance in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China was extra special.
Having won the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian championships, Obiena said in a radio interview yesterday that the Hangzhou gold was personal.
Rated No. 2 in the world, Obiena said he was always dedicating his showing to his longtime mentor Vitaly Petrov, to the country and to his mother federation, the Philippine Track and Field Association.
But the Asian Games gold he had won in record fashion is a bit different.
After finishing a disappointing seventh overall in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, Obiena, 27, felt he had to put everything in place.
“SEA Games felt like it’s for my country. Asian championships felt like it was for my federation. This one felt like it was for me because going in, I won pretty much everything I wanted to win,” Obiena said.
“My coach and I had plans until I won but after that, everything was variable. I could stop after 5.75 meters or continue. I had a ‘free will’ to do it. I took advantage of that moment.”
In this year’s Asiad, Obiena set a new meet record of 5.90 m, eclipsing the former record set by Japan’s Seito Yamamoto, who held the previous record of 5.70 m.
He also had the opportunity to share the podium with hometown bet and silver medalist Huang Bokai and bronze medalist Hussain Assem Al Hizam of Saudi Arabia, who are also his training partners under Petrov.
Last Friday, Obiena received a total of P10 million from the Chiang Kai Shek College, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce Inc. and from businessmen Anton Tan and Carlos Chan.