EJ Obiena returns to Philippine national team as new World No. 3 pole vaulter

EJ Obiena World No. 3 pole vaulter
EJ Obiena was the national flag bearer and made the finals of the Tokyo Olympics. Photo from EJ Obiena social media.

Ernest John “EJ” Obiena is returning to the Philippine national team newly minted as the World No. 3 pole vaulter, after being officially reinstated as a member of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).

The reinstatement announced by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) on August 17, 2022, allows Obiena to again receive financial training support from the Philippines which was stopped in late 2021 after the Philip Juico-led association raised issues against the athlete’s financial liquidation report. The Asian record holder denied the allegations and was eventually cleared by the Philippine Commission on Audit in March. Juico resigned from PATAFA in June.

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Throughout the investigation, Obiena remained loyal to the Philippine flag and continued to win medals as a Filipino athlete even after being ousted from the national team by the previous PATAFA leadership in January. The Italy-based athlete from Manila instead received private support for training and competitions.

The 26-year-old Tokyo Olympics finalist went on to win medals for the Philippines, including an Asian record-breaking historic first World Athletics podium finish in July. The feat resulted in the former World No. 6-ranked pole vaulter climbing to World No. 3.

The PATAFA administration led by its new president Terry Capistrano and executive vice president Willie Torres said the reinstatement of Obiena was decided by the vote of the majority of the PATAFA board members and five other athletes during a special board meeting held on August 13.

EJ Obiena went on social media to express his gratitude for being reinstated as a national athlete.

“I am very thankful to PATAFA leadership and PSC for reinstating me back to the national team.
Whilst I shall properly leave the past in the past; I believe the facts have spoken. The Commission on Audit has spoken. My fellow countrymen have spoken. And my team and I have proven our dedication with our performances on the world stage and a first-ever World Championships medal.
This was a long awaited and just decision; and one in the best interests of Philippine sport. It’s also a decision that is congruent with the values and principles of the Olympic Spirit. Now, I look forward as I work tirelessly to bring more glory to our beloved Philippines!”

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to EJ Obiena and the PATAFA for the World No. 3 pole vaulter’s return to the Philippine national team!

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Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.