MANILA – The world’s third best pole vaulter EJ Obiena remains hopeful he will be included in the Philippine national team again as new leadership ushered in PATAFA.
In an interview with ABS-CBN Sports’ “Off The Record,” Obiena revealed that he is still out of the Philippine team despite winning the first ever Athletics World medal of the Philippines.
Obiena clinched the bronze in men’s pole vault in Oregon, US after crossing the 5.94m bar, setting a new Asian record.
“I hope that things that are not ironed out will be ironed out. I mean, I'm still out of the team. I'm still, for some reason, out of the national team for I don't know why,” he said.
Last month, Philip Ella Juico vacated his post as president of PATAFA to “focus on his personal and business interests and ventures and community advocacies.”
Juico made headlines after he figured in an ugly spat with Obiena which stemmed from a funding issue related to the pole vaulter's coach Vitaly Petrov.
The much publicized issue dragged on such that PATAFA initially excluded Obiena from the national team bound for the SEA Games.
Terry Capistrano, the secretary general of PATAFA, has been appointed as Juico’s replacement.
“It would be nice if I'll be back. Hopefully, the board would be able to see that. And the new administration will make it happen,” said Obiena, who also admitted that he has a good relationship with Capistrano.
Meanwhile, Obiena shared a little about his experience in competing at the World Championship.
According to him, he did not realize that he set a new record when he passed the 5.94 meters. “I was happy that I made it. But at that time, it didn't register that it's a new personal best, it's a new record. I was just, 'I'm still in the competition. I'm still in this game.' So, I better keep my focus on and try to win a medal.”
Obiena moved the country when he pledged the P250,000 incentive he is set to receive from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to help former sprint queen Lydia de Vega who is battling cancer.
His team pledges a total of P500,000 to De Vega, who was once hailed as Asia’s fastest woman.