EJ Obiena back in training for worlds after US immigration mishap
MANILA, Philippines–EJ Obiena’s frequent meetings with his world-ranked rivals have made every competition a familiar scene regardless of the venue.
They’ll be bunched again in a cutthroat contest to determine the world’s best on Friday in the qualification round and the finals on Sunday of men’s pole vault at the 2022 World Athletics Championships.
But the lone Filipino bet on the track and field global stage didn’t arrive in Eugene, Oregon in the United States without any inconvenience that caught the world No. 6 pole vaulter off guard.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles from Italy on July 7, Obiena was reportedly detained by the US Department of Homeland Security for over 12 hours on suspicion of escaping felony charges in the Philippines.
Reports have it that US officials got copies of news stories about the accusation of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association that Obiena embezzled government funds and falsified public documents in liquidating the financial assistance worth millions of pesos from the Philippine Sports Commission.
Obiena was cleared by the Commission on Audit of any wrongdoing and the accusations were later dropped.
“It was an unfortunate incident to be held in detention without fully understanding the basis. It definitely threw me off a bit,” said Obiena.
“I’m now back in training and focusing on my preparations going to Eugene,” added Obiena, who set up a training camp in Chula Vista, California.
Waiting for the 6-foot-2 Obiena at the world championships come Friday are Olympic gold medal and world-record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden, world No. 2 Christopher Nilsen of the United States and his training partner 2016 Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil.
Ranked fourth and fifth in the world are Americans KC Lightfoot and Sam Kendricks.