The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) on Thursday 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 his endorsement for the world indoors in Belgrade (March 18 to 20), 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi (May 12 to 23), World Championships in Eugene (Oregon, July 15 to 24) and the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou (September 12 to 25).
But the PATAFA denied Obiena’s request in a letter signed by training director Renato Unso on Monday.
“Again, how many more gold medals or what more achievements does EJ need to get PATAFA’s endorsement?” POC President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino asked.
“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 after association president Philip Ella Juico filed a complaint against the Tokyo Olympian and the POC last February 11.
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 national sports association.
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 (February 13) and the Orlen Copernicus Cup (February 23) 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 Parafa he addressed to the federation’s board. “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,” the PATAFA said in its response.
The POC reiterated its effort to help Obiena compete in international competitions.