By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) isn’t letting a sports gem like superstar pole vaulter EJ Obiena go.
Amid the rift between him and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), the POC through its president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino has voiced their full support for Obiena even if PATAFA will drop him from the national team.
During Radyo Singko’s Power and Play segment hosted by Noli Eala, the POC chief expressed his sentiments on the issue.
“It is hard to create a world-class athlete. It might take another 15 to 20 years before you create another Obiena. It is a shame to lose someone like him,” said Tolentino.
Since the start of the heated back-and-forth between Obiena and PATAFA, the POC has been vocal towards their support to the former Tokyo Olympian and even declared PATAFA president Philip Juico as persona non grata.
Tolentino also confirmed that they will help Obiena seek funding for his training if ever PATAFA will oust him from the national team pool.
Although no longer receiving allowance from PATAFA since August 2021, Obiena was still able to make history during the Golden Roof Challenge after setting the new Asian record in Austria last September.
Aside from the Golden Roof Challenge, Obiena was also able to win the silver medal during the Paris Diamond League in August.
“With that, the only question is who will bankroll him from Day 1 that he loses his allowances up to his training and his international competitions. That is where the POC comes in. Definitely, we’ll look for private funding for that,” added Tolentino.