EJ Obiena says financial woes, pole vault issues led to Asian indoor withdrawal | Inquirer Sports

EJ Obiena says financial woes, pole vault issues led to Asian indoor withdrawal

/ 06:52 PM February 08, 2023

Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena. –EJ OBIENA INSTAGRAM

Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena. –EJ OBIENA INSTAGRAM

MANILA, Philippines — Aside from logistical issues concerning his poles, EJ Obiena said that financial issue was also a big factor in his withdrawal from the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships on February 10 to 12 in Kazakhstan.

The Filipino pole vaulter took to his social media accounts to share a lengthy post about his heartbreaking decision to skip the continental indoor meet, losing a chance to break his own continental indoor record of 5.93 meters.

The Olympian cited logistical difficulties concerning his poles, which was reported earlier by the Inquirer.

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“First, a pole vaulter without his poles is an ineffective pole vaulter. Despite huge efforts from everyone including my federation (PATAFA) and Mr. Capistrano, we are simply unable to get my poles to Astana, Kazakhstan. None of the airlines serving Astana will bring the poles. My mentor James Lafferty even worked with Pepsi Kazakhstan to drive the poles from Almaty to Astana. That didn’t work as it’s a 17H drive,” said Obiena in an Instagam post.

‘CAUGHT IN RED TAPE’

But Obiena also revealed his team has financial issues, saying some of his members had threatened to leave after being unpaid for “over a year.”

“Despite all the issues of the past supposedly being resolved, my team has not been paid now in over a year.  Payments are caught up in red tape. Unfortunately, some of my team are now threatening to leave Team Obiena. I cannot blame them,” Obiena also said.

“Who could work free for over a year? They have families to support and bills to pay. They can’t keep working for free. I can only hope this resolves soon. I am losing a team I desperately need.  Nobody wins alone. It’s always have been a team effort.”

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In a statement, PSC chairman Dickie Bachmann said that the agency has already reached out to Obiena.

“In light of Mr. Ernest John Obiena’s recent statement on his social media account, we finally got through to him today after several attempts these past few days. Since, we have already made internal actions in the PSC to resolve all issues immediately. We will again reach out to the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and will continue to speed things up to help the national sports association and Mr. Obiena. We continue to strive to give the best support to our elite athletes.”

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The 27-year-old athlete also struggled with financial woes amid his public spat with former PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico. 

The issue was resolved as both parties reached an agreement in a mediation led by the PSC. Obiena was reinstated to the national team last year.

Obiena, the World No.3 pole vaulter, said he is heartbroken over skipping the meet.

“Due to these two factors I shall be unable to compete in the Asian Indoor Championships. My heart is broken. It’s a missed opportunity for me to fight for Gold for Philippines,” Obiena said. “As the old song asks, “How do you mend a broken heart?”

“The answer is simple. I look ahead to upcoming competitions and I will continue to do my best for my country. That’s the solution and that’s all I can do. Thank you all for your support and understanding,” he added.

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Obiena started the year right, winning two golds in his first four tournaments this season.

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