MANILA, Philippines – EJ Obiena, the first Filipino to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, was personally not keen with the decision to postpone the quadrennial meet to next year.
With the continuous threat of the coronavirus pandemic on the biggest global sports showpiece, the delay intends to protect athletes and the spectators even as it poses major adjustments for qualified Olympians.
“Lost for words,” Obiena told Rappler. “I don’t know where to put myself. Just trying to figure things out with this changes.”
The Filipino pole vaulter, though, would still prefer the postponement rather than a cancelation as he was set to see action in his maiden Olympics.
“For sure, it was better than getting canceled, but it’s still disappointing having it postponed,” added Obiena.
Aside from the Philippine athletics star, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno earned berths to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Prior to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision, the 24-year-old had trouble with his buildup for the quadrennial meet due to the cancelation of several sports events due to the virus pandemic.
Obiena was supposed to compete in the Asian Indoor Athletics Championship last February and the World Indoor Athletics Championship this March.
However, both tournaments were canceled as they were hosted in China, where the coronavirus was first confirmed.
Currently training in Formia, Italy, Obiena will turn his focus on preparing for the start of the athletics season, which remains uncertain as coronavirus cases continue to spike in Europe.
“I think I want to jump for the Asian record. That was my goal. But now I just need to focus and work on the weaknesses and try to be better for next year,” added the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist.
Aside from bagging the elusive SEA Games gold, Obiena surpassed his personal records thrice last year and made the Olympic cut with a height of 5.81m last September. (READ: Dream come true: EJ Obiena caps off stellar year with SEA Games gold) – Rappler.com
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