By Joey Villar
TOKYO Olympian pole-vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena’s best mark of 5.93 meters has been ranked as the third best performance of the year by World Athletics.
The recent mark was set by the 26-year-old Mr. Obiena in the Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria in September last year that not only shattered the national record he himself set but the Asian record as well.
American Sam Kendricks and Russian Timur Morgunov shared No. 3 with Mr. Obiena with an identical season best.
World record-holder and Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Armand Duplantis of Sweden remains untouchable at the helm with a 6.10m while the United States’ Christopher Nilsen was at No. 2 with a 5.97m.
Mr. Obiena though slightly slipped in the world rankings from No. 5 in September in 2021 to No. 6 before the year ended.
But the recent controversy Mr. Obiena is currently embroiled in with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) could affect the former’s future performances.
And there seems to be no end in sight as the impasse could drag slowly on as the PATAFA recently released a position paper rejecting the decision of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) executive board on Dec. 28 declaring the former’s president Philip Ella Juico as persona non grata.
“Given that the POC, acting through the ethics committee, did not and continues not to have jurisdiction over the Mr. Obiena complaint, any and all acts it performed in the case, including its declaration of Dr. Philip Ella Juico as persona non grata, are null and void from inception,” said PATAFA in a statement.
PATAFA’s bone of contention was that the POC has no jurisdiction in the Mr. Obiena case.
“In fine, the POC can validly claim jurisdiction over Mr. Obiena’s complaint only if it can establish: 1) that it acted as ‘final arbitrator’ over the case; b) the complaint may be categorized as an intra-NSA conflict or dispute; and, c) it is able to establish that the case could not be settled with PATAFA’s processes and procedures,” it said.
“Of the foregoing three requirements for the proper vesting of jurisdiction in and excise thereof by the POC, only the second is present. Accordingly, the POC acted without jurisdiction when it entertained and proceeded upon Mr. Obiena’s complaint,” it added.
POC President Abraham Tolentino stressed they’re just protecting an athlete who has a potential to deliver a medal in the 2024 Paris Games.
“We’re dealing with an Olympian and world-class athlete who has a future,” said the congressman from Tagaytay.