MANILA, Philippines – Olympic bronze medalist Eumir Marcial expressed his support for fellow Olympian EJ Obiena following his expulsion from the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) due to alleged misappropriation of funds.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, January 5, the 26-year-old boxer slammed the national sports association’s (NSA) recent actions, which included the recommendation to file estafa charges against Obiena, among other controversial developments.
“The decision of the PATAFA committee to remove EJ from the national pool, I feel, was some sort of an invalidation of the efforts and sacrifices that EJ has made to bring honor to our country, something that every athlete can strongly relate to,” Marcial said.
“This unfortunate situation has affected his focus in his training, costing him so much of his time, energy, and resources instead of pouring all his attention to his preparations for his upcoming season and tournaments,” he continued.
Marcial began the statement by saying that he threw his support for Obiena partly due to the star pole vaulter likewise siding with him during his own scuffle with the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP).
Prior to the Tokyo Olympics, the recently-turned pro boxer, and fellow Olympian Irish Magno, felt that they lacked support from their own NSA, and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), which both camps later denied.
In Marcial’s post on Wednesday, he included a screenshot of Obiena’s message of support for their cause, which hinted at a rift with PATAFA even before the Olympics, and his record-setting Golden Roof Challenge jumps.
“Just to let you know that I’m with you. Sadly my hands are tied at the moment, and choosing my battles,” Obiena wrote. “I’m having issues here and there as well, and I feel that the association I’m representing is actually against me.”
Marcial is one of the first athletes to make a statement supporting Obiena’s new battle, and is just the latest in a number of sports personalities who have publicly decried PATAFA’s actions against their ace pole vaulter.
Just last Tuesday, January 4, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino reiterated his support for Obiena’s continued desire to represent the country, and slammed PATAFA’s expulsion order as a “vengeful act.” – Rappler.com