MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) on Thursday, March 3, howled over the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association’s (PATAFA) refusal to endorse world-class pole vaulter EJ Obiena in four major international competitions – the closest of which is the World Indoor Championships in Serbia later this month.
Obiena, the Asian record holder in men’s pole vault, wrote the PATAFA on February 24 seeking endorsement for the world indoors in Belgrade from March 18 to 20, the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi from May 12 to 23, the World Championships in Oregon this July 15 to 24, and the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou this September 12 to 25.
But the national sports association (NSA) denied Obiena’s request in a letter signed by PATAFA training director Renato Unso on Monday, March 1.
“Again, how many more gold medals or what more achievements EJ needs to get PATAFA’s endorsement?” asked POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino. “He’s the best in Asia and his numbers have been rising consistently, but still he’s bound to be denied more medals for the country.”
Obiena’s rift with the PATAFA has reached the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after NSA president Dr. Philip Ella Juico filed a complaint against the Tokyo Olympian and the POC last February 11, four days after the Philippine Senate urged both Obiena and PATAFA to push through with a mediation.
The rift revolves around Obiena’s liquidation of his coach Vitaly Petrov’s salaries that evolved into the athlete’s accusation of harassment by his NSA.
Obiena leapt to 5.81 meters in two competitions in Poland last month – winning gold medals in both, and making him eligible for the world championships.
“My 5.81m jump in my two title wins in the Orlen Cup and the Orlen Copernicus Cup, both in Poland, officially made the standard required for the 2022 World Indoor Athletics Championship and 2022 World Athletics Championship,” Obiena said in his letter to PATAFA.
“It is also better than my 2019 SEA Games gold medal standard and the 2018 Asian Games Gold medal standard.”
The PATAFA denied his request citing the non-completion of mediation procedures.
“By authority of the PATAFA Board of Trustees, please be informed that the PATAFA Board of Trustees will not act on your letter pending completion of the mediation process being conducted by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC),” the NSA responded.
The POC reiterated its effort to help Obiena compete in international competitions. – Rappler.com