WORLD No. 3 Filipino pole-vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena has been officially reinstated into the national track and field team.
Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) Executive Vice-President Willie Torres, upon the instruction by president Terry Capistrano, confirmed the news on Wednesday after the PATAFA board voted on it during a special meeting last Saturday.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Executive Director Atty. Guillermo Iroy, Jr. said Mr. Obiena’s re-inclusion takes effect this month and the changes fall within the existing team quota of athletics.
PSC Commissioner and Officer-in-charge Olivia “Bong” Coo welcomed the development.
“We are thankful to the PATAFA leadership for taking this step to solidify the strength of our national athletics team,” said Ms. Coo.
This meant Mr. Obiena could now start receiving a monthly allowance as well as training budget upon the recommendation of PATAFA.
It was not yet known if Mr. Obiena would get the lion’s share of the fund allotted to PATAFA the same way he did before his infamous brush with the latter and former president Philip Ella Juico.
But with the way Mr. Obiena was performing recently, the country should continue to prioritize the Southeast Asian Games gold medalist after his historic bronze medal effort in the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon last month.
Mr. Obiena is also being viewed as a potential medalist in the 2024 Paris Olympics after his meteoric rise to a career-best No. 3 in the world behind only world and Olympic champion and record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden and No. 2 Christopher Nilsen of the United States.
If he achieves the feat, he will be the first Filipino to snare an Olympic medal in athletics since Miguel White captured a 400-meter hurdles bronze in the 1936 Berlin Games. — Joey Villar