Reigning pole vault champion EJ Obiena was not included in the list of athletes the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) intends to send to the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam this May.

EJ Obiena

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) disclosed this Tuesday following the deadline of entry by numbers to the SEAG Organizing Committee scheduled on Monday.

Patafa submitted the second biggest number of entries with 53 athletes and 17 officials, second only to esports that has 54 entries.

The roster, however, could still be adjusted, but only to decrease the number of athletes.

“It’s one gold medal lost for Team Philippines,” POC President Bambol Tolentino said.

“Barring serious injury, EJ can win the gold medal even blindfolded in Hanoi. He’s not only the best in Southeast Asia, but in the whole of Asia.”

Obiena won the gold medal in the 2019 SEAG that the country hosted with a Games record of 5.45 meters – a far cry from his current season-best of 5.91m in an indoor tournament in Rouen, France over the weekend.

The 26-year-old also holds the national and Asian record of 5.93m.

Obiena being out on the list meant he will also miss the World Indoor Championships set March 18 to 20 in Belgrade, Serbia because the World Athletics’s deadline of registration for qualified athletes was last Monday.

Patafa has reportedly not endorsed Obiena for four major competitions that also include the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon in July.

Patafa chief Philip Juico, however, denied they rejected Obiena’s request of endorsement and said the association only wanted to complete the mediation process following their ongoing rift before it wanted to endorse the world No. 5 pole vaulter.

Obiena has been training and competing abroad, winning two indoor titles in six tournaments.

Source: Manila Bulletin (