The world is not. the 3-pole jumper E. J. Obiena wanted to complete his degree in the University of Santo Tomas amid his success in international athletic competition.
Obiena, is a fourth-year Electronic Engineering student at UST Faculty of Engineering, who is currently on leave to focus on his training abroad. He has played track and field for UST in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and UniGames.
“I hope to graduate here and walk through this historic place that I didn’t walk through today because I want to graduate,” Obiena said after receiving the Pope John Paul II award from UST. .
He was referring to the Ark of the Ages, where there is a superstition that once you enter the ark, you are not allowed to exit until you graduate or you will be kicked out.
“I would like to complete this (degree). I do not know when. I don’t know how long it will take me. It’s my passion outside of sport,” Obiena said.
In 2018, he went on leave to focus on his training abroad.
Leaving college to play sports was a tough negotiation with her professor before, Obiena said.
He revealed that he had previously been discouraged by his teacher Angelo dela Cruz from leaving university, especially since he had just suffered an ACL injury at the time.
Despite this, his teacher, now dean of the faculty of engineering at UST, assured him that they would be there for Obiena if he returned to school.
It was also a tough decision for EJ’s parents to allow their children to play sports and drop out of school in the meantime, but they said EJ should enjoy his youth.
“Pagdating in sports, mga kakailanganin mo para mag-excel ka dyan unang-una yung mo youth. So mga features na kailangan mo, yung mo ability, habang bata ka pa, yun yung advantage mo kapag sa sports,” said the EJ’s father, Emerson.
“Makakapagintay ang pagaaral pero ‘wag lang pababayaan. Yung kabataan hindi yan standing so habang nandyan yan, palo lang ng palo at the same time “wag lang kalimutan yung pagtatapos ng pagaaral,” EJ’s father added.
Emerson is a silver medalist at the 1995 Southeast Asian Games and a bronze medalist at the Manila Games in 2005.
Asked about how he’s balanced his life as a student-athlete, EJ said he’s not the best person to talk about it.
Still, Obiena stressed the importance of time management and the sacrifices that come with juggling your responsibilities as an athlete and a student at the same time.
“Being a student-athlete is tough. Believe me, if it’s not as difficult, it might be a bit more difficult than being a professional athlete because you’re trying to manage two lives and doing it at the same time is quite stressful,” EJ said.
“And just that sheer determination to get there, it’s been a big help for me to keep pushing forward and to keep doing what I’m doing in the tough times and just strapping in and enjoying.” he added.
In 2022, the 6’2″ athlete has had an impressive streak, having won 17 medals, including 12 gold.
Some of EJ’s recent accomplishments include:
- Gold – 26th International Stabhochsprung-Meeting (August 23)
- Bronze – Athletissima (August 25)
- Gold – True Athlete Classics (August 28)
- Gold – St. Wendell City Jump (August 31)
- Gold – Van dAMME Memorial (September 2)
- Silver – ISTAF Athletics Meet (September 2)
- Gold – Golden Fly Series (September 11)
- Gold – Gala Dei Castelli (September 12)
In the Memorial Van Damme competition, the 26-year-old also beat the No. 1-ranked pole vaulter Armand Duplantis.
After spending a few days in the Philippines, Obiena will return to Italy to prepare for several international competitions.