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    EJ Obiena hints at retirement in wake of Patafa allegations

    Nov 21, 2021
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    IF push comes to shove, EJ Obiena believes he's left with no choice but to walk away from the sport he loves.

    The Olympic pole vaulter hinted than retirement is an option in the wake of an ugly controversy involving alleged falsified documents and unpaid salaries raised by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).

    "With the current situation, I cannot train. It's impossible for me to even perform the way I should because of these distractions," said Obiena in a hastily arranged press conference with Ukrainian coach Vitaliy Petrov on Sunday.

    "I think it's something that I don't really want to discuss, but if push comes to shove, I'm only here in the field of sport because I truly believe that I'm capable of producing something and able to perform the way I should have in [the] Tokyo [Olympics].

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    "So I see it futile for me to continue with the current situation that I have, therefore the most reasonable move for me is to consider every option, one of which is retirement."

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    A report released by the Inquirer on Sunday claimed Obiena is under investigation by a Patafa committee for allegedly falsification of documents and alleged non-payment of coach Vitaly Petrov's salaries.

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    Both Obiena and Petrov vehemently denied the charges.

    "I'm here on behalf of Patafa, on behalf of Philippine sports, and I'm here training on behalf of the whole Philippines. And as you guys saw written in the news, my funding has been cut, so I have no idea what I'm going to do moving forward," he said.

    "If you're asking me about how this affects my training, the best guy to tell you that is my coach. But I haven't trained well in the past few weeks due to these allegations. My coach can attest to that, that I cannot focus fully in training.

    "I haven't trained the way I shouldn't be training especially coming this year where a lot of championships are already in line."

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      If he walks away, the 26-year-old Obiena said he feels that he has already made his impact on the sport.

      The University of Santo Tomas product set a new Asian record of 5.93 meters at the International Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria back in September, on top of his gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games, Universiade, and the Asian Athletics Championships.

      "You know, life continues. It's not something that stops for me. I don't want to waste anybody's time," he said.

      "If I cannot jump, if I'm not performing to the point that I can represent Philippines, I'm very, very happy to walk away and accept that fact," Obiena added. "But at the same time, if I cannot represent the country due to the circumstances that I've been dealt with, I might as well move forward."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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