Obiena: I will not change countries

Obiena: I will not change countries
© The Manila Times Ernest John Obiena FILE PHOTO OLYMPIC pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena said despite his troubles with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa), he has maintained that he will not switch countries.

According to Obiena’s American mentor James Lafferty, many countries are interested in offering the Filipino pole vaulter a passport, but Obiena stressed that his goal is to continue winning for the Philippines.

“Even now, in this current crisis, I have no desire to change nations. I see these statements on social media and active encouragement to switch allegiances,” Obiena wrote on Facebook on Monday night. “But this is not who I am and why I do this. I want to win for the Philippines and show the world what we can do. I want to win for us.”

Obiena confirmed that Lafferty mentioned that there were offers for him from other countries. He also confirmed that he was approached “several years ago” by other nations.

“Mr. Lafferty and I always agreed on loyalty matters. I therefore said ‘no’ several years ago. I love my country. I am proud to compete for the flag of the Philippines. I get chills every time I hear our anthem played and to watch that flag rise high,” Obiena wrote. “From my athletes ego, I take pride and joy to win, and win even when I’m not ‘supposed’ to be the victor. I will never abandon my nation because of money. That’s not loyalty. At least not how I define it. “

Obiena, who represented the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics last July, believes loyalty is one of his strong foundations.

“Speaking of loyalty, this is the foundation of my strong defense of these allegations,” he wrote. “When one values loyalty, one cannot comprehend how my own ‘mother organization’ turned on me, never consulted with me, never asked me any questions, never gave me the benefit of the doubt. That’s not loyalty. Again, at least not how I define it.”

Hidilyn Diaz, the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medalist, lent her support, by simply commenting “Thank you, EJ” accompanied with an emoji of the Philippine flag.

Obiena, who is currently training in Italy, was accused by the Patafa of allegedly withholding the salary payment of his coach, Vitaliy Petrov, in which both of them denied the allegations although both of them agreed that Obiena was late in compensating Petrov. He, in turn, hit Patafa by accusing them of destroying his reputation.

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