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EJ Obiena ruled out due to ACL

KUALA LUMPUR – Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, one of the country’s brightest gold medal hopes in the 29th Southeast Asian Games, has been ruled out of the competition after suffering a freak knee injury during practice back home.

A team source said the 21-year-old Obiena twisted his knee after landing on the foam that had moved out of position due to wet conditions.

“They tried to put the foam back in the right place, but it barely moved because the rains have made it too heavy,” said the source.

The source said Obiena’s spikes in the left foot may have caught the lower side of the foam, causing it to twist.

Obiena was immediately rushed to the hospital where magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan showed that his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was broken.

The report was later confirmed by Philippine Track and Field Association (PATAFA) chief Popoy Juico in an interview with journalists.

ACL cases usually take a year to heal, according to a team coach.

Obiena’s injury was a big blow to the athletic squad looking to better its five-gold showing two years ago in Singapore.

Obiena holds a personal best of 5.61 meters, ranked third in Asia.

The Filipino’s biggest rival only boasts 5.40 meters.

Obiena was supposed to arrive Saturday in time for the opening ceremonies.