The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) called out the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) for still excluding pole vaulter EJ Obiena from the national training pool despite recent wins in Europe in the past weeks.

/ 25 February 2022

Obiena had a left knee surgery last month before beginning this year’s season but still manage to compete in five European indoor circuit events after recovery.

The 26-year-old even bagged two gold medals in a 10-day span when he reached a 5.81m at the Orlen Cup (Lodz) and at the Orlen Copernicus Cup (Torun Arena), both in Poland.

Still, Patafa chose to close its doors to Obiena and barred on Tuesday that the Olympian vaulter will not be part of the association’s national pool and his reinstatement remains a subject of their discussion, owing to their ongoing conflict.

With this, POC President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino lamented the current situation for Obiena and questioned Patafa’s decision.

“How many more gold medals should EJ win for him to be reinstated in the national pool?” Bambol said

“The people just can’t wait long enough for a national athletic treasure to be ignored,” he added. 

Tolentino stated that Obiena has the ability to bring more medals to the country, which was evident when he vaulted 5.93 m last September in Innsbruck, Austria, surpassing Japan’s Seito Yamamoto’s Asian Games record of 5.70m set in Jakarta 2018, and when he leaped 5.45 m at the New Clark City in December 2019.

“Looking at EJ’s 5.45 meters in winning gold in the 2019 SEA Games and his present numbers, it’s definitely a big leap for him,” Tolentino said.

Patafa has until March 12 to finalize the national pool as the SEA Games opening ceremony is scheduled for May 12 in Hanoi, Vietnam.