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EJ Obiena vows to still play for PH amid offers to join other teams

EJ Obiena will continue to represent the Philippines despite confirming offers to switch nationalities.
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Even if he is embroiled in a controversy with his national sports association, EJ Obiena assured his fans that he will still represent the Philippines in upcoming pole vaulting events.

Obiena confirmed what Jim Lafferty told Gretchen Ho in an interview last week that there are offers for him to switch nationalities.

Despite all of these, Obiena said that there is no way for him to play for another country.

"Mr. Lafferty and I always agreed loyalty matters. I therefore said 'no' several years ago. I love my country. I am proud to compete for the flag of the Philippines. I get chills every time I hear our anthem played and to watch that flag rise high," the world number six pole vaulter said in a statement on Monday night. "I will never abandon my nation because of money. That’s not loyalty. At least not how I define it."

He also said that not even his row with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association would prompt him to consider any form of naturalization.

"Even now, in this current crisis, I have no desire to change nations. I see these statements on social media and active encouragement to switch allegiances.  But this is not who I am and why I do this. I want to win for Philippines and show the world what we can do. I want to win for us," Obiena continued.

Despite the vow, the reigning Southeast Asian Games champion remains puzzled why PATAFA has vilified him.

"[Loyalty] is the foundation of my strong defense of these allegations. When one values loyalty, one cannot comprehend how my own 'mother organization' turned on me, never consulted with me, never asked me any questions, never gave me the benefit of the doubt. That’s not loyalty. Again, at least not how I define it," Obiena further said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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