EJ Obiena says he felt Patafa chief Juico was trying to sabotage his Olympic bid

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FILE – Filipino Ernest John Obiena prepares to compete in the men’s pole vault event at the Diamond League AG Memorial Van Damme track and field meeting at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on September 3, 2021. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines – Star pole vaulter EJ Obiena said the issues raised by the Philippine Track and Field Association (Patafa) against him stemmed from animosity dating back to 2017, until he considered attempts to sabotage his Olympic bid in 2021.

During the hearing conducted by the House Committee on Youth Development and Sport on Tuesday on issues surrounding Obiena and Patafa, in particular Patafa President Philip Juico, the athlete claimed there had been events ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics held from July to August 2021 that had made him feel like Juico was hampering his offer.

“I couldn’t help but feel like he was deliberately trying to sabotage the country’s chances of winning an Olympic medal due to animosity towards me,” Obiena told lawmakers during online hearing.

World No. 6 Obiena, who finished 11th in Tokyo, claimed there was a case where Patafa did not consult him to choose who would make up his team, while the agency also mistakenly purchased his pole vault equipment, resulting in the breakage and uselessness of the articles just weeks before his flight to Tokyo, Japan.

“Bureaucratic problems”

“We also had an issue leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics when I was not consulted for the selection of my support team, I had to hold on and fight for every member of my team just for me. ensure that the essential people I would need in Tokyo would be there before the submission deadline, ”he said.

“We also had bureaucratic problems with purchasing my equipment, my vaulting poles that I have to use. This resulted in my equipment arriving broken and useless, just a week before my flight to Tokyo. This could have been easily avoided because I informed Mr. Juico and Patafa several months, more than five months before (the) Olympic Games, that I needed this equipment ”, he added.

But apart from that, Obiena also claimed that he felt Juico was hampering his development and progress, as the Patafa executive allegedly authorized two deals – one from a well-known sportswear company – that provided him with the necessary funding.

The other offer Obiena received was that he had been chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the Olympic Solidarity scholarships, which he said were lost because Juico did not provide him with the necessary documents. and recommended another athlete instead.

But the IOC’s program, the Olympian said, was specific to a certain sport.

“After the Olympic Games, I was selected by the [IOC] as a beneficiary of the Olympic Solidarity Program, which granted me financial support to train for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games which would have financed me without causing a single centavo in the Philippines. But Mr. Juico himself didn’t give me the required NSA approval for my paperwork, instead he appointed another athlete, ”Obiena said.

“What is sad about all this is that the program is specific to athletes, while Mr. Juico did not support me, the Federation, the sport of athletics has lost this only place that the IOC has given, ”he added.

But Juico, who was also present at the hearing, said he had never been approached by Obiena and her mother about the deal with the sportswear company, as they chatted with the manager. of Patafa’s marketing and communications.

“I haven’t even told Mr Obiena about it, he can’t even produce a document saying that I should do this, I should do that,” Juico said.

Regarding one of the team members who was excluded from the Obiena delegation, Juico explained that he wanted to know the team members because as a manager he wants a clear vision of what is going on. past.

“The sports doctor [he was talking about], sports psychologist, I wanted to meet her there because it is the duty of the sports psychologist or any other member of a group of athletes to be in close harmony with the administration, with the NSA, and any other team member, ”Juico mentioned.

“Hang on to the problem”

“I just wanted to have a 360 degree view – it’s a management style or a management method, you want to know what’s going on with your athlete, after all, we pay the psychologist, that’s our right to know, to monitor, ”he added.

Juico made no mention of the arrival of the broken Obiena equipment or the IOC selection that the athlete escaped.

Instead, he urged the Obiena camp to stick with the problem and respond to accusations that he did not pay his trainer, Vitaly Petrov.

“Di ko alam kung ano ang harassment, ‘pag ba nagtatanong ka harassment na?” (I don’t know why this is called harassment. Is asking a question considered harassment?) You know this is only part of it, after all I have to report to PSC how the money is used, ”Juico said.

“Let’s just go back to the original (problem), paliwanag niyo na lang ‘yong mga dokumento saka’ yong mga fund (just explain the documents and funding), but we are open to mediation,” he added.

Patafa is in hot water for allegedly harassing Obiena, after ordering the athlete to return 85,000 euros (over 4.8 million pesos) in financial aid after he allegedly failed to pay Vitaly.

Obiena denied the allegations and Petrov ultimately clarified his statement that he was being paid properly by the athlete and that he only wanted the process to be expedited as Obiena was making advances on behalf of the government.

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