CAPAS, Tarlac — ‘Mas magaling siya, lagpas-lagpasan pa.’
Emerson Obiena watched history unfold right before his very eyes as his son, pole vaultvstar, EJ captured the gold for the Philippines in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Not only did the 24-year old EJ end a 24-year gold drought for the Philippines in the event, he also did it in a record-breaking fashion as he cleared the bar at 5.45 meters.
As a father and coach, Emerson’s heart swells with pride as the crowd inside the New Clark City Stadium erupted in cheers over his son's achievement.
“Mas magaling siya, lagpas lagpasan pa. Sobra-sobra pa,” said Emerson, himself a former national player in pole vault.
He started out in pole vault when he was 28 and competed in four SEA Games, bagging two silvers (1993, 1999) and two bronzes (2005, 2007) before retiring in 2007 without a gold in his collection.
Fast forward to 26 years later, Emerson, 55, realized that the gold was meant for someone more special than he is.
After all, EJ’s success is also his success.
“I'm happy for him kasi matagal na niyang hinahangad ito. Mailap masyado ang gold medal na ‘yan,” said Emerson. “Ngayon nakuha na niya, sa wakas, nakuha niya. Ito yung pinakamailap na medalya sa kanya. It's something to celebrate.”
After the SEA Games, EJ will fly to Italy to resume his training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Emerson will again part with his son but he knows that champions make sacrifices and EJ is meant for greater things.
“Nandyan ‘yung nami-miss namin siya. He will not be spending Christmas again with us, this is the fourth year na hindi kami magki-Christmas magkakasama,” said Emerson.
“Pero kailangan ng sacrifice eh. Pero sana pagtapaos ng Olympics magkaroon ng chance na kami naman,” he added.