The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has shown its support for lone Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena, specifically his inclusion into the list of athletes that will represent the country in the upcoming South East Asian Games at Hanoi, Vietnam. 

According to POC President Abraham Tolentino, they’ll do what they can to fight for his spot in the national roster. 

“Will try but it’s better if both,” said Tolentino, hinting at Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), who didn’t include the 26-year-old in its endorsement. 

Tolentino’s statement came after reviewing the entry by numbers form submitted by PATAFA and 38 other national sports associations (NSAs), which did not include Obiena’s name. 

Cavite’s Eighth District Representative said he’s disappointed over the decision to exclude Obiena.

“I can only shake my head, this is horrible,” said Tolentino. “Barring serious injury, EJ will win the gold medal even blindfolded in Hanoi. He’s not only the best in the SEA Games, but in the whole of Asia—not to forget that he’s No. 5 in the world,” he stressed. 

POC only has little time left to convince PATAFA to revise the list of its representatives for the upcoming games as Vietnam set the deadline for submission of team compositions for the May 12 to 23 Games on Saturday (March 12).

“An NSA relentlessly sanctioning its No. 1 athlete—a guaranteed win and who knows a future world and Olympic champion—I just couldn’t find a logic,” Tolentino stated. 

PATAFA Training Director Renato Unso said if Obiena was included in the roster, he could’ve been the first full-blooded Filipino to compete in the world indoors. 

But because he was left out, he will also miss the World Indoor Championships scheduled for March 18 to 20 in Belgrade as the World Athletics’ deadline of registration for qualified athletes was last Monday.

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