Ask any elite athlete what his biggest motivation for success is and chances are his answer would be making up for a disappointment.
The 2018 Asian Games, where he could not garner a medal, could either be just a big disappointment or a valued motivation for Philippine pole vault record holder EJ Obiena.
The 21-year-old UST student, whose 5.30 was good for seventh place in the Asiad, has chosen to look to the future and focus on just getting better.
“Back to school and for this month I would do some cross training with other sports to recover. At the moment we still don’t have any competition set for this year. I might compete in the upcoming UAAP,” said Obiena.
His personal best is actually 5.61 which would have been good enough to win silver behind the 5.70 set by Seito Yamamoto of Japan. But Obiena was simply not at his best during the Asiad.
After suffering an ACL injury in 2017 he had to spend precious time to heal and recover. Later he needed to build up his leg strength. Then he needed to regain his form and finally his confidence.
He seemed to have come all the way back to peak form and could clear 5.51 on what he would describe as his best day.
He had a game plan for the Asiad. He would start at 5.30, skip 5.40 to preserve his strength, clear 5.50 and then go on to battle for the gold. It was a sound plan which he could not execute.
He easily cleared 5.30 on his first attempt. He skipped 5.40 and went straight to 5.50 where he missed three attempts which left him at seventh place. He is glad to be back home and plans to focus on his form in a back to the basics approach in his training.
“This month I would not be practicing regularly at Ultra. But training goes on and we are already starting our foundation training,” he said.
Obiena is looking forward to the 2019 Southeast Asia Games which will be held right here in the Philippines.
“The Thai guys are always strong and I know that they would prepare for the SEA games as much as they can. It is a year more before the SEA games and I would train as hard as I can to have the upper hand,” said Obiena.
He will have his work cut out for him. In particular he should be wary of Thais Patsapong Amsam-Ang who cleared 5.50 in the Asian Games to win the bronze medal and Porranot Purahong who cleared 5.20.
The two will provide the biggest challenge for Obiena. But it is a challenge that could be overcome with the proper motivation and the proper preparation.
“I learned a lot from this season and got to know myself even more. It is time to work more and get smarter along the way. Goals are still there waiting and looking back 11 months ago, I may not be there yet but I am closer than I was yesterday,” said Obiena.
Like Michael Jordan who became the greatest basketball player of his generation after being left out of the varsity team during junior high school EJ Obiena will use the Asian Games disappointment as fuel to attain greater heights in his sport.
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