POC laments Obiena national team exclusion despite gold medal wins in Europe
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Olympic Committee decried EJ Obiena’s continued exclusion from the national team despite the pole vaulter’s success in Europe.
Obiena, who has starred for the Philippines in international tournaments this season, has been excluded from the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association’s national team roster that will compete in the coming Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games.
“How many more gold medals should EJ win for him to be reinstated in the national pool?” said POC President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino in statement. “The people just can’t wait long enough for a national athletic treasure to be ignored.”
Patafa and Obiena have been at odds with each other since November of 2021 after the national sports association accused the 2020 Tokyo Olympian of falsifying his liquidation reports.
“If the SEA [Southeast Asian] Games and even the Asian Games are held tomorrow, EJ will easily sweep the gold medals in both competitions. “It’s crystal clear, EJ is a guaranteed gold winner in both,” said Tolentino.
While he’s still dealing with his rift with Patafa, Obiena recovered from a knee surgery and competed in five events in the European indoor circuit.
After failing to secure a podium in Tokyo, Obiena gradually made up for his Olympic shortcoming and he set the Asian record of 5.93m in Innsbruck, Austria.
The 26-year-old also holds the SEA Games record of 5.45m he set in 2019 in New Clark City.
“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,” said Tolentino.