EJ Obiena to Finland? PATAFA looks for training venues as virus cases explode in Italy

Published December 9, 2020, 1:49 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

EJ Obiena
Philippines’s Ernest John Obiena compete in the men’s Pole Vault during the IAAF Diamond League competition on September 17, 2020 at the Olympic stadium in Rome. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)

The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) is exploring the possibility of sending Olympic-bound pole vaulter EJ Obiena to Finland due to the alarming coronavirus cases in Italy.

PATAFA president Philip Juico said he is coordinating with the Finland Athletics Association regarding this plan after it was reported that the training center in Formia where Obiena has been training might temporarily shut down.

“EJ’s coach (Vitaly Petrov) suggests they train elsewhere in Europe,” Juico told Manila Bulletin.

“I got in touch with Mr Antii Philakoski of Finland to explore the possibility of EJ transferring camp.”

Juico said Obiena and his coach first considered Germany, but the country doesn’t allow non-Germans at the training center. Petrov also considered Dubai, but the training costs are expensive.

As of Wednesday, Finland has reportedly tallied 28,242 total coronavirus cases including 9,718 active cases and 424 deaths.

Italy, meanwhile, experienced a spike in November, tallying 1.7 million total cases including 737,525 active cases and 61,240 deaths at the moment.

Obiena will be participating in the World Indoor Championship in March 2021 in Nanjing, China, which serves as a springboard to his preparations for the Tokyo Olympics set in July.

Obiena is one of the four Filipinos who have already qualified for the Olympics. Others include gymnast Caloy Yulo, and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno.

Yulo and Marcial are currently training in Japan and the United States, while Magno is training locally.