EJ Obiena eyes programs to make pole vault popular in PH

Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 06 2022 02:10 PM

 Philippine's Ernest John Obiena reacts during the Pole Vault Men competition of the ISTAF INDOOR (Internationales Stadionfest) international athletics meeting on February 5, 2021 in Berlin. Tobias Schwarz, Pool/AFP/File
Philippine's Ernest John Obiena reacts during the Pole Vault Men competition of the ISTAF INDOOR (Internationales Stadionfest) international athletics meeting on February 5, 2021 in Berlin. Tobias Schwarz, Pool/AFP/File

MANILA – Aside from the 2024 Paris Olympics, pole vault world No. 3 EJ Obiena is also eyeing to create more grassroots programs that will help discover the next generation of athletes in his sport. 

During his launch as the brand ambassador of Rebisco Biscuits on Tuesday, Obiena hinted at some projects he is planning to pursue with pole vault in the Philippines. 

While he declined to give details about these programs, the Filipino Olympian shared that his partnership with the local biscuit brand can help in such endeavors.

“We were just talking and it is still quite confidential. But hopefully, we can push through with this. There are things that we and Rebisco probably wanna do. We’re pushing for that. Rebisco has been here helping the community, helping the Filipino people in every way that they can,” he said. 

Obiena, who is currently the Asian record holder, is also hoping to bring competitions to the country. Recently, reports circulated that he is planning to bring world champion Armand Duplantis and No. 2 seed Christopher Nielsen to the Philippines. 

Rebisco, meanwhile, assured its support to Obiena’s plans. 

“We would discuss nga with EJ these programs. This is a partnership. It’s not just take and take. EJ has a good vision for making pole vaulting known in the Philippines. We want to support our endorser, an inspiration to many,” said Andrei Soriano, head of marketing.

Rebisco has its own grassroots program in volleyball, with the establishment of the Rebisco Volleyball League dedicated to high school athletes. 

It also has two commercial teams in the Premier Volleyball League: Creamline Cool Smashers and Choco Mucho Flying Titans.

Obiena welcomed his new endorsement with a grateful heart, hoping to lessen the burden on the Filipino taxpayers in paying for his training and competitions. 

According to the athlete, he wants to continue raising the Philippine flag in the international stage without asking for more from the Filipinos. 

Obiena arrived in Manila last Thursday, his first time returning to the Philippines since 2019. He will stay for a three-week vacation before returning to training and competition.

He won six of his last eight competitions in the outdoor season, including the Memorial van Damme -- the Brussels leg of the Diamond League -- last September 2.

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