By Mark Allan Cervantes
(August 4, 2021) – EJ Obiena ended his first stint in the quadrennial meet without a podium finish, finishing at 11th place in the pole vault finals in the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
But despite the result, there was still no shortage of supporters, as they took to social media to extend their gratitude to the 25-year old Obiena.
Hidilyn Diaz, the country’s first Olympic gold medalist, posted a video on Facebook cheering Obiena during the competition.
After Obiena bowed out, Diaz added to her post, saying she is certain that the pride of Tondo, Manila will come back stronger.
“Yes, babawi si EJ,” commented Diaz.
Former PBA star Chris Tiu posted a tweet to congratulate both Obiena and boxer Nesthy Petecio, saluting them for proudly representing the Philippines. While Obiena fell short of a medal, Petecio became the first Filipina boxer to win a silver medal in the Summer Games.
Congratulations to EJ Obiena and Nesthy Petecio!! Amazing accomplishments in their fields and both did great in representing the Philippines! Maraming salamat 🇵🇭 looking forward to cheering them on in future competitions!
— Chris Tiu (@chris_tiu) August 3, 2021
Sports personalities Carla Lizardo and Tin Gamboa also took to Twitter to thank Obiena for his valiant performance.
Salamat, EJ! 🇵🇭🙏
— Carla Lizardo (@carlalizardo_) August 3, 2021
SALAMAT EJ!!! ❤️❤️🇵🇭🇵🇭🙏🏼🙏🏼
— Tin Gamboa 🌻 (@suzy899) August 3, 2021
Veteran sportscaster and former PBA commissioner Noli Eala shared his admiration for Obiena, noting that he was the only competitor in the finals who hails from Asia.
Obiena is the only Asian in the finals. What an honor. 🇵🇭
— Noli Eala (@NoliEala) August 3, 2021
Even politicians took a break from their busy schedule to watch Obiena compete in the finals. Sen. Migz Zubiri posted a photo on Facebook of him with other senators rooting for the Filipino bet during the broadcast.
In a separate post, Sen. Pia Cayetano wrote a thank you message for Obiena, along with a photo of them taken during the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The University of Santo Tomas (UST) community also praised Obiena’s impressive journey. He studied electronics engineering at UST.
Maraming salamat sa karangalang ibinigay mo sa Pamantasan at sa ating bayan, EJ! pic.twitter.com/Uc3RwkkC0C
— University of Santo Tomas (@UST1611official) August 3, 2021
The Varsitarian, UST’s official student publication, meanwhile, took notice of Obiena’s decision to represent “Bikini Bottom” as well in the pole vault finals, as the 2019 SEA Games gold medalist wore a pair of socks featuring SpongeBob SquarePants characters SpongeBob and Patrick Star.
WELL DONE, EJ!
You made the Philippines, UST and Bikini Bottom proud.
— The Varsitarian (@varsitarianust) August 3, 2021
The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association also gave props to everyone who cheered for Obiena and gave tribute to every member of his team who helped him prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.
The outpour of support from Filipinos all over the world will definitely fast-track Obiena’s comeback story. Still very much at his athletic prime, the country can surely look forward to watching him fight for the flag once again in future competitions. (PM)