World champion pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena has been tasked to carry the Philippines’ flag at the opening ceremonies of the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) scheduled to take place in Vietnam this May.
Obiena is defending his 2019 SEA Games gold record at 5.45 meters in the regional competition originally slated for 2021 but was rescheduled to May 12-23, 2022, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
EJ Obiena is currently ranked the World’s No. 6 men’s pole vaulter, holds the Asian record of 5.93 meters, and has bettered his SEA Games record when he cleared 5.81 meters with his two gold-winning and World Athletics Championships-qualifying vaults in Poland last February. He again delivered better performance and broke the Philippine national record in early March after clearing 5.91 meters in France.
The Filipino Olympian was unable to compete in the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia owing to the then-unresolved conflict with the national federation. The Philippine Olympic Committee had earlier intervened to ensure Obiena’s inclusion in the 31st SEA Games roster of 656 Filipino athletes tasked to defend the Philippines’ Overall Championship.
The recent final resolution of the case has resulted in the national federation committing to endorse the 26-year-old athlete who is expected to compete in the following tilts:
- May 12 to 23, 31st Southeast Asian Games – Hanoi, Vietnam
- July 15 to 24, 18th World Athletics Championships – Oregon, USA
- September 12 to 25, 19th Asian Games – Hangzhou, China
EJ Obiena went on social media to express his gratitude for the task given to him.
“It is my pride and honor to be carrying our 🇵🇭 flag in the opening ceremony of the upcoming SEA games in Hanoi,” Obiena posted on social media. “I am not just representing athletes but over 100 million proud Filipinos.”
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