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The Asian Indoor Championships are coming up but there’s an athlete we won’t see in the competition: Ernest “EJ” Obiena.
He clarified that he is “not injured or sick. I am physically and mentally ready to go. To compete. To fight for gold for The Philippines.”
On social media, the pole vaulter explained that he is pulling out because he can’t bring his poles to Astana, Kazakhstan, where the competition will be held. Another issue is financial constraints.
Obiena wrote, “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.”
He revealed that most Asian pole vaulters he knows are also pulling out for the same reason. Obiena added, “It’s a sad state when the best vaulters in Asia are excluded from competing in the biggest indoor championships in Asia.”
On the financial constraints, he said, “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. 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.”
Obiena also said, “My heart is broken. It’s a missed opportunity for me to fight for Gold for Philippines. As the old song asks, ‘How do you mend a broken heart?’”
He answered, “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.”
The athlete ended his post with, “Thank you all for your support and understanding.”
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