EVEN EJ Obiena's coach Vitaly Petrov himself is puzzled on the controversy that the Olympic pole vaulter found himself in and said that this situation only ruins the Olympic pole vaulter's chances in the coming competitions.
EJ Obiena controversy
"I have worked with EJ now for seven years. He is a disciplined and dedicated athlete, a truly fine representative of his nation, the Philippines. He has always represented his country with honor and dignity," he said, coming in defense of his student.
Petrov himself was shocked with the issue given that he himself was paid the coaching fee of EUR85,000 (about PHP4.2 million) for the period in question and this distraction could prove to be detrimental to his progress given that this has affected the mentality of Obiena in their trainings in Formia, Italy.
"This situation is destroying this young man and ruining his chances to success now and in the future. I worked with many countries and sport federations and I must say, I do not understand what this federation is doing, and what good comes out of destroying a fine, young man. It is opposite and sets the Philippine track and field program back and this is a shame," he said.
Petrov is not the only one leaping to the defense of Obiena, with the 26-year-old himself sharing that his parents have backed him up in the midst of this mess.
The University of Santo Tomas product, however, would like to leave his parents out of this as both of them are still working for the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).
His father Emerson is a legendary pole vaulter in his own right and serves as one of the pole vault coaches for the national team. On the other hand, his mother Jeanette, a former hurdler herself, works with the federation's grassroots arm.
"I try to avoid to get my parents involved with this because at the moment, it's with me, my coach, and my federation," he said. "[Patafa] is part of their lives and I don't want to bring them so much stress. These are my problems to deal with as a fully grown man."
Nonetheless, the younger Obiena feels the warmth of his parents who continue to back him up even though they're miles away from each other.
"I talk to them, I tell them things, and I know they support me. I think the best thing that they said to me is we're here with you even if they're back in the Philippines," he stated.
"My dad is my dad, and of course he supports me the way the best that he can. My dad always says, 'If you didn't do anything wrong, fight for it, shed light into it.' Everybody on my team just said, 'If you did nothing wrong, shine the brightest light to show whatever is there.' And that's the best advice I've got."