MANILA, Philippines – EJ Obiena can only wonder “what if” as his season-best score of 5.91 meters could have won him a bronze medal in the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Serbia.
“What would’ve happened had I participated in the World Indoor Championships?” Obiena asked in a Facebook post, stating first that he does not really enjoy hypothetical arguments.
“What could’ve been the result had I been there? Would the Philippines have won [its] first-ever World Indoor Championships medal in athletics?”
His 5.91m clearance, which Obiena nailed to clinch silver in the Perche Elite Tour in France this month, is a centimeter higher than the 5.90m mark American Chris Nilsen posted in the World Indoors to claim bronze.
Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Nilsen, who owns a season-best of 6.05m, failed in all of his three tries to surpass 5.95m.
“I last jumped 5.91m when I set a new national indoor record. I am improving week by week and was feeling better. I believe I could have exceeded this height in the worlds had I been there,” Obiena said.
“I was improving and sharpening by the day.”
Obiena even argued that he could have competed for the silver, which 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games gold medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil pocketed with 5.95m.
Meanwhile, Armand Duplantis of Sweden captured gold in another dominant performance after breaking his world record for the second time in two weeks as he soared past 6.20m.
“The silver medal winner is my good friend and a great champion. Head to head this season, he and I competed against each other five times. I won three out of those five head-to-head meets,” Obiena said.
“I can’t stop thinking that I could have fought for that bronze or fought for that silver even.”
For Obiena, it was a missed opportunity to once again bring honor to the Philippines.
“The bottom line is, our nation lost a chance for glory for no legitimate reason. I hope and pray this never happens again,” he said. “Country before all else!”
Obiena now turns his focus on the upcoming outdoor season.
“Enough of what is now lost. Saying goodbye to this indoor season with a mission.” – Rappler.com