Ernest John “EJ” Obiena did more than live up to the hype; he soared above it, becoming the epitome of athletic excellence both for the Philippines and the continent at the 2023 Asian Games in China. The Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium became a hallowed ground over the weekend where the World No. 2 in pole vault not only captured his inaugural Asiad championship but also etched his name into history with record-smashing performances. This was no ordinary victory witnessed by spectators on September 30th. Obiena obliterated a three-decade drought in Philippine athletics, bringing home the country’s first athletics gold since the iconic Lydia de Vega’s triumph in the women’s 100m back in 1986. To grasp the magnitude of this achievement, imagine this: Obiena didn’t just break the previous Asian Games record of 5.70 meters set by Japan’s Seito Yamamoto in 2018 — he annihilated it and showcased his dominance in the sport.