No letup in training for Obiena

DESPITE the coronavirus threat engulfing the world, a Filipino athlete bound for the Tokyo Olympic Games remains deep in training half a globe away.

He's no other than pole vaulter EJ Obiena, who trains in Italy, which is the hardest hit of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the future of the Tokyo Summer Games in jeopardy.

But Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Philip Juico said Obiena trains in Formia, Italy, which is hundreds of miles away from the badly-hit northern Italy.

Juico said they are constantly reminding Obiena, 24, about the measures he has to take to make sure he is safe.

"He's training in Formia, Italy but stays outside the training center," Juico told sportswriters recently.

Italy has recorded the most number of deaths with 4,000-plus.

"He's with his coach. They know the rules and should be following them: Soap hands and social distancing," Juico said. "His training continues."

Obiena is one of four Filipino athletes who have qualified for the Summer Games. The three others are boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno and world gymnastics champion Carlos Yulo.

Several others led by Rio de Janiero weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz are still going through a series of qualifiers as they bid to make it, too, to the Olympics.

As of yesterday, however, the clamor is growing for the Olympics to either be postponed or cancelled because of COVID-19 pandemic that has hit more than 130 countries in the world.