CHRISTOPHER Nilsen of USA, Armand Duplantis of Sweden and Ernest John “EJ” Obiena of the Philippines celebrate after the men’s pole vault final during day 10 of the 2022 World Athletics Championships on July 24, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. — REUTERS

AFTER all external factors have already been sorted out, World Championships pole-vault bronze medalist Ernest John “EJ” Obiena can now focus solely on delivering what this grateful nation hopes for him to accomplish — a first Olympic medal in almost a century.

“This was a long awaited and just decision and one in the best interests of Philippine sports. It’s also a decision that is congruent with the values and principles of the Olympic Spirit,” said Mr. Obiena.

“Now, I look forward as I work tirelessly to bring more glory to our beloved Philippines,” he added.

After a long wait, the World No. 3 and Asian record-holder was finally reinstated by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) into the national team on Wednesday that would allow him due benefits like a monthly stipend and funding from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

“I am very thankful to PATAFA leadership and PSC for reinstating me to the national team. Whilst I shall properly leave the past in the past, I believe the facts have spoken,” said the Southeast Asian Games gold winner.

“The Commission on Audit has spoken. My fellow countrymen have spoken. And my team and I have proven our dedication with our performances on the world stage and a first-ever World Championships medal,” he added.

With the remaining kinks already ironed out, Mr. Obiena is now looking forward to improving his career-best 5.94 meters, breaching the six-meter plateau and snaring the country its first podium finish in the Olympics in the 2024 Paris Games since Miguel White copped a 400m hurdles bronze in the 1936 Berlin Games. — Joey Villar