‘You are a tiger, EJ’

World pole vaulter no.3 EJ Obiena speaks to the press during his UST visit on Sept. 29, 2022. Photo by Dawn Solano/THE FLAME

THOMASIAN OLYMPIC pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena drew praises for his “ferociousness” amid the challenges he faced throughout the year.

“You are a tiger, EJ. I believe all tigers are ferocious and feared upon especially when threatened,” UST Vice-rector Fr. Isaias D. Tiongco said during Obiena’s victory homecoming on Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. building.

“But you are not merely a tiger, you are a Thomasian tiger,” Tiongco added.

Obiena, an electronics engineering student, was also lauded for excelling in prestigious competitions, including the 2022 Wanda Diamond League, where he bagged gold and surpassed the world’s number one and Olympic record holder Armando Duplantis.

“You nonetheless exhibit grace, courage, tenacity, persistence, and composure, exemplified in the University core values of competence, commitment, and compassion,” Tiongco said. 

Tiongco reminded Obiena not to put “too much” on himself, citing his bid for the 2024 Olympics to be held in Paris, France.

The highlight of Obiena’s homecoming was the conferment of the Pope John Paul II Outstanding Achievement Award, which is given to outstanding Thomasians in the fields of sports and arts.

“I never really thought that UST would recognize me in the things I have done, but I’ve always been part of the University even when I was away,” the pole vaulter said.

Obiena, who just finished his three-year international campaign, is preparing for his next competition in January. 

“My preparations right now are just quite simple. […] Just get back my strength and be as always as I can be and we’re gonna work on a lot of things that would make my vaulting more efficient than ever,” he said.

Obiena is currently on a leave after his appearances in various international tilts held across Asia and Europe, where he bagged 12 gold, two silver, and three bronze medals.

Last year, the Filipino pole vaulter was removed from the 31st SEA Games roster of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association due to embezzlement and liquidation report accusations. F – Prince Ronson Sabado with reports from Shayne Macaraeg and Matthew Jucom 

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