World Athletics Championships 2022 men’s pole vault bronze medalist John Obiena thanked the Philippine Athletic Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for reinstating him back to the national team.
Obiena, who is currently training in Italy, expressed his gratitude in a Facebook post on Wednesday, August 17.
“I am very thankful to PATAFA leadership and PSC for reinstating me back to the national team. Whilst I shall properly leave the past in the past; I believe the facts have spoken,” he wrote.
He cited the Commission on the Audit report that cleared him of any obligation and the support of his countrymen.
Obiena world ranked No.3
The 26-year-old World ranked No. 3 said, “And my team and I have proven our dedication with our performances on the world stage and a first-ever World Championships medal. This was a long-awaited and just decision; and one in the best interests of Philippine sport. It’s also a decision that is congruent with the values and principles of the Olympic Spirit. Now, I look forward as I work tirelessly to bring more glory to our beloved Philippines!”
His reinstatement to the national team came on the heels of PATAFA’s endorsement of the PSC which also included five other athletes.
In a PSC statement released to the media on Wednesday, August 17, it said: “This happy development came after a majority of PATAFA Board members voted on it during their special board meeting held last Saturday, August 13.”
PATAFA Executive Vice President Willie Torres bared this as instructed by PATAFA President Terry Capistrano.
PSC Executive Director Atty. Guillermo Iroy Jr. said that this decision takes effect this month and that the changes fall within the existing team quota of athletics.
PSC officer-in-charge Bong Coo was pleased with this development as she thanked the PATAFA leadership for taking a step in solidifying the strength of the national team.
Obiena made a historic feat at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, United States on July 25 (Manila time) after salvaging a bronze at the Worlds.
With his 5.94-meter record, he copped the country’s first athletics medal on the world athletics stage, breaking his previous Asian, continental, national, and personal best record of 5.93m, which he set in the Golden Roof Challenge in September in Austria.
Obiena Olympic goal
The six-foot-two Obiena trailed behind world record holder and reigning Olympic champion Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and lived up to his billing to clinch the gold with a 6.21m, breaking the world record anew. He was the lone entry who reached 6m. The silver went to Tokyo Olympics runner-up Chris Nilsen of the USA, he also registered a 5.94m mark like Obiena but had the better advantage since it only took him one try to clear the height.
Obiena’s training partner and former Olympic champion Brazilian Thiago Braz finished fourth with 5.87m following his failed attempts at 5.94m and 6m.
Obiena and the athletics body were entangled in a controversial rift. PATAFA accused the Olympian of falsifying liquidation reports and embezzling training funds, resulting in his expulsion from the national team pool and Obiena kept his innocence.
The row between the two parties was settled in a mediation led by former PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.