By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Olympian pole vaulter EJ Obiena said he will still compete for the country despite the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) administrative committee’s recommendation to drop him out of the national team.
In a lengthy social media post late Tuesday, Obiena said he will do it to prove something for Patafa and to its president Philip Juico.
And he will do it for his love for the country.
“Ako ay atletang Pilipino. Tumatalon ako para sa Pilipinas at sa lahat ng aking kababayan,” Obiena wrote.
The 26-year-old added he will fight for the truth through his performances in competitions.
“I will clear my name in court and I will clear my name in competition. My pole will be my platform. My every jump is my defiance to everything that is wrong in the sport. And an affirmation that the Filipino is tough, enduring, loyal and will stand up for what is right and true,” he said.
Obiena’s statement came a few hours after the Patafa administrative committee recommended for his expulsion from the national team, the filing of estafa case against him and the sacking of his Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov.
The decision was based on evidence reports from Patafa’s investigative committee that Obiena misappropriated government funds intended for Petrov and falsified liquidation documents.
Obiena has long denied the allegations and said he is leaving everything to his legal team in order for him to focus on his training and competition.
“My season will start in less than a month. The drama brought about by this witch-hunt has taken valuable time, effort and energy away from my training and preparation. I have a small window to save my season and I do not want to be distracted any further by Philip Juico and the Patafa,” he said.
“They have done enough damage already and I will be at fault if I allow them to cause further harm.”
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has already thrown its support to Obiena’s cause and assured that the world No. 6 pole vaulter can compete in major competition despite Patafa’s recommendation to expel him from the national squad.
The country’s athletics superstar also owns the Asian record of 5.93 meters. He competed in last year’s Tokyo Games that saw him finish tie for 11th.