Ernest John “EJ” Obiena nonetheless desires to characterize the Philippines in worldwide meets and the decision of his battle with the Philippine Athletics Observe and Area Affiliation (Patafa) will pave the way in which for him to gun for the rostrum within the 2024 Paris Olympics.
In a prolonged Fb publish, the present world No. 6 pole vaulter stated he has no plans of accepting “profitable pay packages” from different nations regardless of the continued rift together with his mom federation.
“Even now, on this present disaster, I’ve no want to vary nations,” Obiena wrote in his publish simply earlier than Tuesday midnight. “I see these statements on social media and energetic encouragement to change allegiances. However this isn’t who I’m and why I do that.”
“I wish to win for the Philippines and present the world what we will do. I wish to win for us.’’
Obiena’s publish lit social media on the day the Philippines celebrated the lifetime of one among its fiercest and most interesting nationwide heroes, Andres Bonifacio, and eased hypothesis he would go the way in which of chess Grandmaster Wesley So, who switched to US citizenship to chase alternatives that he claimed he couldn’t discover right here. So additionally had a bitter falling out with sports activities officers simply earlier than bolting the nation.
“We’re fortunate that EJ thinks that manner, that he considers himself foremost a Filipino and has that pleasure of competing for our nation,” stated Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino. “As a Filipino, not only a sports activities official, I used to be amongst those that prayed he wouldn’t settle for presents from different nations.”
Tolentino declined to additional touch upon the problem as a result of the POC’s ethics committee is at the moment probing the mess between Obiena and the Patafa. With the probe ongoing, the POC has requested events to maintain their silence on the problem.
Obiena stated he had already turned down profitable presents from a number of nations earlier than, and he gained’t be altering his thoughts, fractured relations with the Patafa however.
“Additionally it is true I’ve been approached a number of years in the past already by different nations, floating profitable pay packages to compete for his or her flag,’’ added Obiena, the one Asian within the prime 10 of pole vault’s world rankings.
“I stated ‘no’ a number of years in the past. I’ve at all times believed that loyalty is a core advantage. I like my nation. I’m proud to compete for the flag of the Philippines. I get chills each time I hear our anthem performed and [when I] watch the flag rise excessive,’’ stated Obiena.
“Each time I step on the rostrum I power myself to not cry. From my athletes ego, I take pleasure and pleasure to win and win even after I’m not ‘supposed’ to be the victor. I’ll by no means abandon my nation due to cash. That’s not loyalty. At the least not how I outline it.’’
Obiena was reacting to a latest interview of his mentor, Jim Lafferty, who revealed that Obiena has standing presents for naturalization from a number of nations. Neither Lafferty nor Obiena talked about any nation, however an Inquirer supply revealed that China is without doubt one of the persistent suitors of the College of Santo Tomas standout.
Obiena has Chinese language lineage, albeit one already watered down by the passing of generations. Additionally, Chinese language pole vaulters haven’t made a dent within the athletics world stage. Bokai Huang and Jie Yao are fortieth and forty second in world rankings.
There may be hypothesis Italy, the place Obiena has arrange camp for coaching, can also be within the Filipino star. Italy’s prime pole vaulter, Matteo Capello, is ranked 78th. Nice Britain and Germany, two different nations that reportedly have supplied Obiena citizenship, haven’t any athlete within the prime 10.
Obiena’s vow to remain a Filipino means he will probably be flying the nation’s colours when he chases a podium end in Paris in 2024, after ending eleventh within the pole vault closing in Tokyo, the place he admitted feeling off within the qualifying spherical.
However gaining redemption within the French capital three years from now means Obiena must repair his present feud with the Patafa, which lately accused its athlete of falsifying liquidation reviews relating to the wage of his Ukrainian coach, the legendary pole vault star maker Vitaly Petrov.
“I can not settle for to be accused of false allegations and have my fame smeared,’’ stated Obiena. “Talking of loyalty, that is the muse of my sturdy protection of those allegations. When one values loyalty, one can not comprehend how my very own ‘mom group’ turned on me, by no means consulted with me, by no means requested me any questions, by no means gave me the advantage of the doubt.’’
The Patafa additionally demanded the return of 85,000 euros (over P4.8 million) representing Petrov’s wages and froze additional monetary support to Obiena pending the decision of the matter.
Obiena has denied allegations that he misused the funds. INQ
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