Out of national team, EJ Obiena’s SEA Games participation still unclear
MANILA, Philippines–Out of the national training pool, the title defense of pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena in the coming Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam remains uncertain.
Athletics chief Philip Ella Juico confirmed on Tuesday that the Tokyo Olympian and Asian record-holder was excluded from the master list of athletes the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association forwarded to the Philippine Sports Commission.
Obiena, ranked No. 5 in the world, will need the imprimatur of his mother organization, the Patafa, for the opportunity to see action and retain his gold medal in the SEA Games set in Hanoi on May 12-25.
“EJ Obiena is not in the national training pool list, so we have to discuss that amongst ourselves in the Patafa board,’’ said Juico during the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum.
The falling out between the Patafa and its prized athlete remained unresolved, but Obiena finally committed himself to enter into a mediation with Juico that the PSC will organize.
Obiena, however, is still busy competing in Europe since the track and field indoor season is in progress.
“We will have to look at his case if he wants to participate (in the SEA Games). He said he would ask for help from others and other people said they would try to work for his participation,’’ said Juico. “Let’s see what works.’’
The Patafa put up a committee that investigated Obiena’s liability for allegedly not paying the salaries of his Ukranian coach Vitaliy Petrov on time for 28 monts worth 85,000 Euros (roughly P5.3 million).
Obiena retorted that late payments do not constitute a crime following his delayed disbursements of Petrov’s salaries in three tranches back in November last year.
Patafa dropped him from the rolls of national athletes, but House Deputy Speaker and Patafa chairman Rufus Rodriguez made it clear that the defending SEA Games gold medalist wasn’t expelled from the track and field association.
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