THE Philippine athletics team suffered a major blow when gold-medal prospects Ernest John Obiena and Patrick John Unso suffered injuries before competing in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Obiena, who trained in Europe, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee while Patrick Unso is down due to a recurring hamstring injury.
“We win some, we lose some; that’s the way of life,” said Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association president Philip Ella Juico after marathoner Mary Joy Tabal clinched the country’s first SEA Games gold by winning the women’s marathon.
“We are all saddened by the bad news, but we have to live with it. It’s just that the kid (Obiena) really wanted to win and is so determined to bring honor to the country.”
Obiena, one of the country’s brightest bets in the pole vault event, suffered the injury while training at Philsports in Pasig City on Friday.
He was supposed to travel to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
“Initial findings were torn ACL,” he said on his personal website. “I am very sorry to everybody. I had the injury while doing my final preparation for the SEA Games.”
Obiena, a third-year Electronics and Communications Engineering student at UST, trained under Olympics gold medalist Vitaly Petrov of Ukraine in Italy.
He was expected to vie for the SEA Games gold after posting a national record of 5.61 meters in the Stabhocksprung Classics in Leverkusen. Porranot Purahong of Thailand cleared 5.30 meters to capture the gold in the Singapore SEA Games in 2015.
“I’m really upset and I don’t know how to express it,” he said. “I need to bounce back right away and hopefully recover as soon as possible.”
Unso is now unable to see action in the relay and hurdles events.
“Patrick complained of pain,” said Juico. “Matagal na nya injury yun pero pabalik-balik. Tapos nakaramdam sya ng grabeng sakit sa training so hindi na namin pinilit at baka ano pang mangyari.”