World no. 3 pole-vaulter Obiena eyes first Olympic medal

AFTER all external factors have already been sorted out, World Championships pole-vault bronze medalist Ernest John “EJ” Obiena can now focus solely on delivering what this grateful nation hopes for him to accomplish — a first Olympic medal in almost a century.

“This was a long awaited and just decision and one in the best interests of Philippine sports. It’s also a decision that is congruent with the values and principles of the Olympic Spirit,” said Mr. Obiena.

“Now, I look forward as I work tirelessly to bring more glory to our beloved Philippines,” he added.

After a long wait, the World No. 3 and Asian record-holder was finally reinstated by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) into the national team on Wednesday that would allow him due benefits like a monthly stipend and funding from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

“I am very thankful to PATAFA leadership and PSC for reinstating me to the national team. Whilst I shall properly leave the past in the past, I believe the facts have spoken,” said the Southeast Asian Games gold winner.

“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,” he added.

With the remaining kinks already ironed out, Mr. Obiena is now looking forward to improving his career-best 5.94 meters, breaching the six-meter plateau and snaring the country its first podium finish in the Olympics in the 2024 Paris Games since Miguel White copped a 400m hurdles bronze in the 1936 Berlin Games. — Joey Villar