EJ Obiena’s SEA Games participation still awaiting confirmation
MANILA, Philippines–Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena has been added to the master list of Filipino athletes set to participate in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The Philippine Olympic Committee is now awaiting the go-signal from Vietnam organizers, so that the world’s No. 5 vaulter and Asian record-holder can retain his SEA Games gold medal.
“We’re still waiting for their formal confirmation on the status of EJ. We made sure that he’s included in the list of athletes,’’ said POC president Rep. Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association forum.
The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa), Obiena’s mother federation, initially left their prized athlete out of the roster for the SEA Games, prompting the POC to include him in the delegation of 656 athletes from 39 sports.
“The Vietnam organizing committee has received our entry by names,’’ said Tolentino after personally forwarding the list during the chef de mission meeting over the weekend in Hanoi.
Obiena ruled the men’s pole vault of the 2019 SEA Games at New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac with a 5.45-meter leap and has since progressed following stints in the Tokyo Olympics and tournaments in Europe where he cleared 5.91 meters that reset the Asian record.
Due to his rift with the Patafa, Obiena was not endorsed by his national sports association to the POC in the SEA Games apart from failing to get the green light to compete in the recent world indoor championships in Serbia.
The POC then suspended Patafa and the Philippine Tennis Association last week that opened up a spot for Obiena in the SEA Games through the effort of the local Olympic body.