First-ever Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz expressed encouragement to beleaguered fellow Olympian and pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, saying he must continue jumping for the Philippines despite the everyday challenges they encounter.
“Don’t give up whatever they say to you, you can do it. You have to keep going to overcome the challenges,” the weightlifter Diaz told the 26-year-old Obiena during their online appearance on Level Up’s Radyo Katipunan show last week.
“There are times that you want to give up especially you’re injured. But you have to think of the people around you, those who believe in you and don’t give up on you. I really understand you, the trials you’ve been with. It’s very difficult to be a national athlete, but always remember you’re doing it for our country – Philippines.”
And from one Olympian to another, the 30-year-old Diaz encouraged him to work hard and train smart after his recovery to defend his title in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 12 to 23, as well as the Asian Games in September in Hangzhou, China.
“Always believe that you can do it because you know and I know with no doubt that you can do it,” Diaz added, noting that Obiena, an Asian record holder, could defend also the pole vault gold he won two years ago in New Clark City during the country’s hosting of SEA Games.
Same reply goes from Obiena to Diaz’s remarkable words.
“I want to see Ate Hidi to defend and win her SEA Games, Asian Games and World Championships and then win a second gold in Paris 2024,” Obiena said. “She’s beacon for us athletes a role model to all of us Filipino and her achievements and journey makes all do better and push for greater heights.”
Obiena is still in Uhingen, Baden Wurttemberg, Germany for his continuous rehabilitation after a minor surgery last week to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee.
Obiena is set to compete in the Init Indoor Meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany on January 28 after the six days rest.
“Ate Hidi is our best example of what a Filipino athlete should be. Her journey defines what being a Filipino athlete needs to go thru yet still shine in the world stage. She showed the world that we Filipinos are one of the best if not the best. She inspires the nation to be better and to keep striving for greatness. She inspires the whole country.”
Diaz, who is recovering from a COVID-19 infection last week, is praying Obiena will be ready for the battle once the biennial meet begins.
“You can win a gold medal [even] in the Olympics and I believe you can easily do it,” she added.
Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) are not seeing eye to eye due to a liquidation issue that has unfortunately blown out of proportion.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) under Chairman William Ramirez has already offered to help mend the differences for the two parties.