EJ Obiena was one of eight Filipino athletes granted Olympic Solidarity Scholarships by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) announced on Thursday, giving the beleaguered world No. 5 pole vaulter more reasons to cheer.
Obiena is currently embroiled in a career-bogging rift with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) over allegations of misappropriated funds and fraudulent liquidation reports, but POC president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said in a statement to media offices that the awarding of a scholarship grant is “testament to the IOC respecting and honoring the decision of national Olympic committees.”
Aside from Obiena, 26, also awarded scholarships were 14-year-old golf sensation Rianne Malixi, Elreen Ando (23 years old, weightlifting), Samantha Catantan (19, fencing), Aira Villegas (27, boxing), Rogen Ladon (28, boxing), Patrick Coo (20, BMX cycling), Jericho Francisco (20, skateboarding) and Allen Arcilla (19, wrestling).
All the athlete scholars were endorsed by their respective national sports associations, except for Obiena, the Tokyo Olympian and Asian men’s record holder who is, by far, the most decorated standout in the list.
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