EJ Obiena saddened by Sam Kendricks pullout after being hit with COVID-19 in Tokyo

Published July 29, 2021, 8:39 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

EJ Obiena

Pole vaulter EJ Obiena is saddened by the news that world No. 2 Sam Kendricks of United States wouldn’t be competing in the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.

Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) spokesman Edward Kho said it was unfortunate that Kendricks, as well as Argentinean competitor German Chiaraviglio were ruled out of competition due to the virus.

“He (Kendricks) and EJ are close friends,” said Kho, who is with the team in Tokyo.

“They have been having interactions during many competitions in the past.”

Kho said this should be taken as bad news despite Kendricks being one of Obiena’s strongest contenders in the event.

“You never celebrate somebody else’s misery,” Kho said.

Obiena and Kendricks last competed in the Bauhaus-Galan Wanda Diamond League in Stockholm, Sweden early this month with the Filipino national record holder placed fourth and the American came in second.

With the development, the Philippine athletics delegation is taking extra precautions during the training of Obiena, as well as Fil-Am sprinter Kristina Knott.

PATAFA secretary general Terry Capistrano said they are doing the best they can to ensure the health and safety of the two athletes.

“We’re taking a lot of extra precautions now,” Capistrano said, adding that they were lucky to stay at the Conrad Hotel instead of the Athletes’ Village where there was a high probability percentage for contamination.

Capistrano added they are bringing their own alcohol to the Edogawa Stadium where Obiena trains, and they were the ones who wipe down whatever surfaces that the athlete will be in contact with.

“We can never be too careful anymore.”

Capistrano also said they commissioned a van to bring the team to practice instead of allowing their two athletes to ride on the athletes’ bus or any Olympic-accredited taxis.

Obiena is scheduled to compete in the qualifications on Saturday, July 31, at the Olympic Track stadium, while Knott will be racing in the women’s 200-meter heats on Monday, Aug. 2.