'Socks game' reminds EJ Obiena to have fun in competitions

Published August 5, 2021, 11:14 AM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Photo from AFP

Anyone following EJ Obiena’s tournament stints the past years would notice the Filipino pole vaulter’s inclination to wear quirky socks.

At the Tokyo Olympics final, the 25-year-old can be seen vying for the gold medal wearing a mismatched pair of Spongebob Squarepants socks. Not long before in the qualifications, he sported an avocado-printed gray pair.

“I put those socks as a reminder not to think about the competitions too much and have fun,” Obiena said in a recent online press briefing with Manila-based reporters.

“I used to not wear funky socks since 2019. I only started wearing it in 2020 because I always feel that I take myself a little bit too seriously (in competitions).”

Obiena said he wanted to wear something anime for the Olympics since Japan is best known for this type of film and TV genre, but he wasn’t able to purchase it on time.

“I actually wanted to wear some anime socks like ‘My Hero Acadamia’ or ‘Naruto’, but we weren’t allowed to go out, so Spongebob would do. I love those two,” he said.

Obiena added he was hoping the fun and comical vibe of the cartoon characters he was wearing – Spongebob and Patrick – would help ease the tension he feels during his toughest competition to date.

“Those Spongebob vibes would have been very useful for me, but it didn’t work!” said Obiena with a chuckle, a reaction that he was gracious in defeat despite missing his goal of making it to the medal podium.