MANILA, Philippines – Asian pole vault record holder EJ Obiena attributes a large part of his success to his team.
Unknown to many, his crew – composed of Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov, a physiologist, an osteologist, a psychologist, and a nutritionist – stayed by his side even when they did not receive their salaries on time.
“They worked back in 2020 without pay. When payment was delayed, they were the first ones affected,” Obiena said in the Level Up program of Radyo Katipunan.
“But they were not like, ‘Hey, we’re not going to help you because there is no money.’ Of course they need money to put food on their plate but these are the people that care for me deeply and I trust them with my life.”
Obiena claims he has not received funding since August 2021 and he is currently in danger of getting dropped from the national team by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) for falsifying liquidation documents pertaining to the salary of Petrov.
If expelled, the 26-year-old will permanently lose funding from the government.
But Obiena said his team continues to make the same sacrifice.
“So far, they’re doing the same. They’re just like, ‘Yeah, we’re with you, we’re going to help you, we’re going to get through this, we’re going to find a way to make this work.”
Obiena also received immense support from his compatriots amid his rift with PATAFA, with many even encouraging him to accept offers to play for other countries.
“I just want the truth and I think the Filipino people know the truth and I think they see who is telling the whole story and I’m just really overwhelmed by it,” Obiena said. – Rappler.com
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