Gold at all costs

Lito A. Tacujan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Like a recurring bad dream, the controversy involving pole vault ace EJ Obiena and PATAFA reared its ugly head anew after the Asian record holder improved his personal best en route to a silver medal finish in a meet in France last week.

And the Philippine Olympic Committee again stokes the fire of the conflict by insisting that Obiena must be included in the national contingent to the coming Hanoi SEAG Games.

“He’s a sure gold medal winner,” said POC president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

The PATAFA, headed by Philip Juico, has charged Obiena of falsifying his liquidation papers of the goverment fund meant for the service of Ukrainian coach Valery Petrov.

It also didn’t include Obiena in the national team bound for the Hanoi SEAG. Although the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has been trying to mediate in the dispute, it has allegedly put on hold the world No. 5 pole vaulter’s stints in the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

The POC has made an appeal specifically on Obiena’s case to the World Athletics which has earlier maintained that national federation has the jurisdiction to rule on internal issues.

Tolentino stressed that Obiena is a cinch to retain his SEAG title and it would be a boost to the Nationals bid in overall medal race.

But at what cost?

Sporting icons and champs, like Hidilyn Diaz and Manny Pacquiao, provide us with a dash of national pride and a sense of nationhood with their outstanding feats.

Eventually they become role models for the youth and aspiring athletes. And they have a responsibility to dish out their best with their reputation and integrity intact.

Otherwise they will win newly minted gold medals lacking in sheen and luster.

“We support athletes like EJ Obiena but we must also ensure that they represent the country not only equipped with the highest skills but also possess the highest integrity,” Juico said in a statement.

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