POLE VAULTER EJ OBIENA SET TO PLAY FOR TEAM PH IN 2021 SEA GAMES
Filipino pole vault star, Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, will play for Team Philippines in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam in May.
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) on Friday decided to include Obiena among the 654 athletes that will be vying in the 39 sporting events after the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) excluded him from its master list of athletes.
“EJ’s name must be there,” said POC President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
The sports official decided to intervene in PATAFA’s decision as they believe that Obiena’s absence in the coming SEA Games will deny the country one sure gold medal.
Obiena won the men’s pole vault top podium victory during the 2019 SEA Games at the New Clark City Stadium with a leap of 6.45 meters.
Moreover, less than 2 years from his successful regional games campaign, Obiena broke the Asian record with 5.93 meters at the Golden Rooftop Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria last September 2021.
“It’s both frustrating and disappointing if we don’t see EJ setting a new SEA Games record in Hanoi,” said Tolentino.
“Logic plays a major role here for the need to include him in the SEA Games list, this is sports and he’s a national sports pride.”
The long-running feud between Obiena and PATAFA’s Philip Juico has started last November with the athletic organization after alleging the Olympian of falsification of his liquidation reports and misappropriation of funds.
A similar case happened in 1985 when iconic track star Lydia de Vega was also excluded from the national team for the ASEAN Cup at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Tolentino shared that the POC is in talks with the World Athletics regarding Obiena’s issues.