By NIKOLE JAVIER
World No. 3 Ernest John Obiena has expressed his gratitude to his alma mater Chiang Kai Shek College for organizing a homecoming and send-off party ahead of his golden quest in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Obiena was all smiles the moment he entered the school’s gate and got emotional in the ceremony befitting his status as the country’s pole vault king.
After all, he spent his elementary and high school years in the Tondo-based institution where he was eventually discovered and nurtured.
“I would say I would not be me without the upbringing of Chiang Kai Shek. It is 10 years of my life to be able to speak the way I speak,” added Obiena. “I really did not expect this and it just makes my heart melt. It’s a very glorious day, I would say that and I’m thankful to everyone who made this happen, really. Maraming salamat po.”
In his homecoming, Obiena cheerfully presented the 18 medals he won in various competitions abroad.
The biggest one is yet to come.
And that’s why CKSC President Jude Yap announced the school will also be behind Obiena in his desire to become the second Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal after weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s breakthrough in the Tokyo Games last year.
“Chiang Kai Shek College’s Board of Trustees and Alumni Association will be providing support for our son all the way to the Paris Olympics (in 2024),” revealed Yap. “He is our treasure.”
Freego boss Eduard Tio, who is one of the school’s Board of Trustees, was supremely proud with Obiena’s string of accomplishments, including stunning Tokyo Games and World Championships winner Mondo Duplantis in a recent tournament.
“We’ll be praying for EJ’s success in Paris,” said Tio.
Obiena, who toured Palawan with his girlfriend and co-athlete Caroline Joyeux, felt that he was a “human being for once” following his hectic schedule in Europe spanning eight months which saw him stamp his class in the second half of his Europe campaign.
After his much-needed rest and reaction, Obiena is going to plunge into serious training in Italy once again with eyes on Paris Games.
His immediate target is to clear the 6.00-meter barrier before accomplishing his ultimate goal – a gold in Paris.