EJ Obiena’s Olympics stint ‘just a bonus’ for dad Emerson

Asian Games - Hangzhou 2022 - Athletics - Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Hangzhou, China - September 30, 2023 Philippines' Ernest John Obiena celebrates with the Philippines flag after winning the Men's Pole Vault Final REUTERS/Jeremy Lee

FILE–Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena.

MANILA, Philippines—Amid all his son EJ’s achievements so far, Emerson Obiena feels like a second stint in the Olympics feels like “just a bonus.”

Emerson, who was in attendance during the Philippine Airlines’ special dinner for the country’s Paris-bound athletes for the 2024 Olympics at Century Park Hotel on Wednesday, said he is already immensely proud of his son even before the Paris Summer Games where his EJ gets another shot at a historic medal.

“Well, to tell you the truth, this is just a bonus,” said Emerson in Filipino. “My dream when I started teaching pole vaulting was to develop world-class athletes. I’m already very proud of the achievements he’s made.”

READ: EJ Obiena nabs gold in Poland tilt as Paris Olympics looms

Emerson wasn’t just a father to EJ in his early years of training to become a world class pole vaulter.

After achieving triumph during his heyday as a pole vaulter himself, even winning a medal in the 1993 Southeast Asian Games, Emerson turned to training EJ to become where he is now as the world No. 2

From his humble beginnings at University of Santo Tomas to the world stage, Emerson has been behind EJ all the way.

But even Emerson acknowledged the up-and-down season that EJ’s been having this year with just a few weeks to go before the Paris Olympics late in July.

READ: EJ Obiena embraces responsibility as Asia’s top track and field athlete

If he had anything to say about it, having a rocky stint is normal for an athlete, especially considering EJ’s equipment mishaps in the past.

“In his past competitions, his problem was his equipment,” explained Emerson.

“Maybe somewhere along the way, they had a mishandling or an accident with the equipment so he wasn’t ready for those. His falls were dangerous,” he added.

Emerson also revealed that EJ’s hips were stretched during the season but it was nothing serious.

READ: The difference between EJ Obiena and Mondo Duplantis

It seems like EJ is still fairing well with the competition despite his hardships, winning gold in the Irena Szewinska Memorial on Friday with his highest jump of the year at 5.97 meters.

While the season has been rocky for EJ, Paris will be a different beast and Emerson acknowledged one of the athletes that EJ will be facing in France in a few weeks.

And Emerson knows all eyes will be on world No. 1 Mondo Duplantis.

“Anything can happen when it comes to game time. Until it’s over, you have to have hope. Mondo is one of the greatest. His caliber is far from the usual pole vaulters.”

“However, as you know, people make mistakes. Sometimes they have ups or downs so we can’t say what can happen there [in Paris]. I’m just hoping. Whatever color the medal is, it’s okay with me and I’ll be happy.”

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Before Paris, EJ will compete in Poznan, Poland on Sunday, Manila time.