August 8, 2022
Pole vault star EJ Obiena and his team pledge P500,000 to sprint queen Lydia de Vega, who is battling breast cancer

MANILA, Philippines – EJ Obiena is giving back to a Filipino athletics great as he and his team pledged a total of P500,000 for the medical needs of sprint queen Lydia de Vega, who is battling breast cancer.

Obiena will receive a P250,000 reward from the Philippine Sports Commission after breaking the Asian record anew on the way to capturing a pole vault bronze in the recent World Athletics Championships.

The pole vault star reset his previous Asian record by a centimeter with a clearance of 5.94 meters to become the first Filipino to win a medal in the global athletics showpiece.

“I have just learned of the plans of PSC to reward me with 250,000 pesos incentive for breaking the Asian record,” Obiena wrote on Facebook.

“This is deeply appreciated and certainly needed since my funding is still yet to be sorted, despite the mediation agreement.”

“However, on the flight back to Italy, it occurred to me that despite my own training needs, ma’am Lydia needs this money more than I do.”

The other P250,000 will come from James and Carol Lafferty, who serve as advisor and nutritionist, respectively, for Obiena.

“We hope this makes a difference and gives ma’am Lydia added strength to battle this horrible disease. God bless you and give you strength ma’am Lydia,” said Obiena.

The 26-year-old said a legend like De Vega helped him achieve his recent feat, which catapulted him to a career-high No. 3 in the world rankings.

Only reigning Olympic champion and world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden and Tokyo Games silver medalist Chris Nilsen of the United States are ranked above Obiena.

“I am here today because I am standing on the shoulders of giants, the legends of Philippine athletics who paved a way for me, who brought attention and success to athletics,” said Obiena.

“I owe them a debt of gratitude. I thank them for the route they have forged for us competing today.”

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