Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov has created pole vault stars and record holders and knows a world-class talent when he sees one.
He has lumped Filipino ace EJ Obiena in an elite group of world-beaters and lamented how his ward had been booted out of the national pool unceremoniously by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) despite his current status as world No. 5 and Asian record holder.
In his Facebook post, which has got thousands of reactions already, Petrov asked the Patafa “what is this federation doing” dropping Obiena “who has a great future in the sport.”
The Patafa is still sitting on that decision after deferring its implementation when a mediation offered by the Philippine Sports Commission was still on the table. That process has been scrapped after Obiena said he would not submit himself to the process, citing bad faith on Patafa’s part.
“Never have been scorned by any federation of any nation that I have worked with,” said the 84-year-old coach, who has molded world champions like Sergey Bubka, Yelena Isinbayeva and Giuseppe Gibilisco.
“From the seven years of work that I have done with EJ, I have never heard Patafa or Mr. (Patafa president Philip Ella) Juico ask me what they can do to help me develop EJ,” wrote Petrov.
Petrov was also expelled by the Patafa as national coach.
“If this Federation is dropping a world class athlete instead of helping; drops his coach who have trained him to be one of the best pole vaulters; brands a sport patron persona non grata who have done nothing but helped bring this Filipino boy to where he is now, then I ask what is this federation doing?” wrote Petrov.
Money not an issue
“I was never Philip Juico’s pole vault coach, I am the coach of Thiago Braz, Sergey Bubka, Yelena Isinbaeva and Ej Obiena. I am proudly the coach of these hard-working Athletes. Now that Ej is finally a top 5 pole vaulter in the world, his own Federation President, Philip Ella Juico kicks him out of the team for nothing. In my opinion athletes should only be thinking about their training and performance everything else is additional burden and distraction that they don’t need.”
Petrov added that he took Obiena under his wing because of a passion to coach those with the skill to become an elite vaulter.
“Money has never been an issue. There are even times where I spend my own money, like paying for a gymnastics coach to help EJ improve,” he added. “Truth be told, I call him (Obiena) ‘my boy’ all the time as I see my athletes as my own family like my sons and daughters.”
It was Petrov who sparked the controversy when he signed a statement regarding Obiena’s failure to pay his coaching fee—the star maker eventually invalidated that statement by saying he was “tricked” into signing it.