By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) won’t abandon its mandate as it intends to support EJ Obiena’s participation in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.
The development came after the PSC Board meeting Tuesday where the government sports agency decided to fund all athletes endorsed by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
Obiena was one of the 82athletes endorsed by the POC.
POC came to Obiena’s rescue after the world No. 5 and Asian record holder was not endorsed by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) pending the settlement of their dispute over the alleged financial anomaly.
Traditionally, the PSC funds athletes who are only recommended by their national sports associations, but the agency decided to make an exception this time.
With this, the country stands a good chance of getting a gold medal in pole vault since Obiena is the defending champion with his Games-record feat of 5.45 meters.
Obiena is doing well abroad as shown by his season-best of 5.91m in an indoor tournament in Rouen, France a week ago.
His Asian record is 5.93m. Meantime, Olympians Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam will use the 2022 Thailand Open International Boxing Tournament as a springboard to a heavier task – the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The national team is set to open a training camp in Thailand within the week, Petecio said, as Phuket will host the tournament from April 1 to 10.
For the Thailand Open, Petecio will still compete in the featherweight (54kg) division while Paalam will move up to the featherweight class (54kg), one rank higher than his pet event at flyweight (48kg). (With a report from Carlo Anolin)