EJ Obiena to miss world championships in Serbia due to Patafa’s nonendorsement
MANILA, Philippines—EJ Obiena will be reduced to a spectator at the World Athletics Indoor Championships slated from March 18 to 20 in Belgrade, Serbia.
Obiena, one of the top pole vaulters in the world, will not see action in the prestigious meet after the Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association (Patafa) refused to endorse the Tokyo Olympian.
“I have not been endorsed for the Worlds. Registration is now closed. I won’t be attending. I am the only top-ranked vaulter not participating,” Obiena said in a lengthy post on social media.
The 26-year-old secured his slot in the world indoor championships after clearing 5.81m to win the gold in the Orlen Cup in Poland last month.
“I am in prime physical and mental condition. I am ready to be the first Philippine HOME-GROWN athlete to compete in the Worlds, and I am ready to compete and bring home a medal,” he said. “Now is my time; NO, now is our time! But sadly, we will never know.”
“Country has not been put first by all. Country comes after personal considerations for some. This is more than unfortunate. The nation pays the price.”
Patafa also did not endorse Obiena for the Southeast Asian Games in May, world championships in Oregon, USA in July and the Asian Games in China in September.
“If country was ever put first, I should be headed to Belgrade now. But I am not. I will watch it on TV like millions of others. I will see other nations take the medal that Philippines should be winning,” the world No. 5 said.
“I shed a tear now with a heavy heart, but not just for myself. I shed a tear for my country. We had a chance to show the world our greatness. And we lost it.”
Obiena has been off to a good start this season having already won two gold medals. He also reset the indoor national record at 5.91m last week in France.
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