EJ Obiena competing in Berlin

EXCLUSIVE: Which Medal is EJ Obiena Proudest of and What’s Next?

EJ Obiena had a busy start to the year. Reflecting on his medal haul from the Indoor Season, he shares some season highlights with The GAME.

In less than one month, EJ Obiena finished his 2023 Indoor Season. He competed in multiple counties all across Europe, week after week.

“Most of the time, I was just moving from one hotel room to another, packing and unpacking my stuff,” EJ told The GAME.

Despite the demanding schedule that comes with the sport, it is safe to say that in the end, it was all worth the trouble. After all, EJ wound up collecting medal after medal throughout the season.

EJ Obiena at Orlen Cup 2023
EJ Obiena at 2023 Orlen Cup. Photo credit: EJ Obiena on Instagram
Going on a Medal Haul

As EJ Obiena was packing and unpacking after every event, his bag was likely getting heavier with each repack, as he was winning multiple medals in just a few weeks time.

To recap the Filipino Olympian’s busy month, EJ kicked off the season on January 25 in Cottbus, Germany. He opened with a silver medal in the Internationales Springer-Meeting, where he cleared 5.77 meters.

EJ’s first gold came in only his second meet of the year at the Perche en Or in Roubaix France. He cleared 5.82 meters in a single attempt. Just five days later, he again found himself on the podium, as he bagged the bronze medal in the Mondo Classic. There, he tied his personal and national indoor record of 5.91m meters.

EJ Obiena wins gold at the Copernicus Cup
EJ Obiena wins at the Copernicus Cup. Photo credit: EJ Obiena on Instagram

Not even a full two weeks after his first event, the World No. 3 pole vaulter went on to take his second gold of the season already at the Orlen Cup in Poland. Another few days after, he won his third gold medal from a 5.87m clearance in the Copernicus Cup.

Getting Through the Tight Schedule

Competing continuously and striving for medal after medal, recuperating after every effort was EJ’s main priority in the short periods of time he could get for himself in between events.

“Recovery is defintiely the biggest priority. You’re competing, you want to be in the best shape going in,” EJ shared.

“But there are competitions I call buildup competitions, where you compete but it is considered as training. These are the meets that you don’t really exert the most effort, therefore you can be tired so you can still train and be a better athlete for the following competition.”

EJ Obiena at Mondo Classic 1
EJ Obiena suiting up for the Mondo Classic. Photo credit: EJ Obiena on Instagram

A buildup competition or not, the Filipino’s results show that he clearly holds a standard for success. Of course, in every meet, he strives to take gold, and on more than one occasion, he achieved just that.

But, he revealed that the moment he was proudest of did not actually bring him to the top step of the podium.

The Pride in Taking Risks

On February 11, EJ Obiena won the silver medal in Berlin at the ISTAF Indoor Meet, recording another 5.82 meters to earn his sixth straight top-three finish. He fell short to the reigning World Champion, Armand Duplantis, who reached an impressive 6.06 meters.

But, although EJ did not take home the gold medal for the event, his performance in Berlin was actually his proudest moment of the busy season.

 “It took me three jumps to get that silver medal, but I was not supposed to even compete,” EJ explained.

“My back was having a lot of issues. I took big risks, and I’m very proud that I still came out second to the world record holder with three jumps. That’s something that not a lot of people can say and I’m very proud of how I faced the challenge and how my coach and the team handled the situation,” he added.

EJ Obiena
EJ Obiena has had many proud moments as a Filipino athlete. Photo credit: EJ Obiena on Instagram

Finally, to cap off the 2023 Indoor Season, EJ Obiena competed in in the Meeting Hautes-de-France Pas-de-Calais in France.

Despite his disappointment after finishing in 10th place after clearing just 5.64 meters, Obiena still has a lot to be proud of from busy Indoor Season.

What’s Next?

Now that the Indoor Season has come to a close, for EJ, the coming months are going to be all about training and preparation for his next run of competitions.

“The coming months is gonna be training, training,” EJ explained.

“There’s going to be no competition until at least early May. The plan is to be competitive in the major championship, make sure that I’m physically ready to compete at each championship at the best of my capacity, so work needs to be done now.”

EJ Obiena at the beginning of the 2023 Indoor Season
With the 2023 Indoor Season behind him, EJ focuses on preparing for the rest of the year’s competitions. Photo credit: EJ Obiena on Instagram

Indeed, this year is going to be an important one for EJ Obiena, as he will be striving for the opportunity to compete once again in the Olympics in Paris next year.

After spending a few weeks in the Philippines to take a short break after his successful Indoor Season, EJ is now heading back to his training grounds. And you can expect that he will definitely be working hard in preparation for his next major event.

Banner image from EJ Obiena on Instagram.

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