Just a few days after celebrating his latest gold-medal win at the Orlen Cup in Poland, EJ Obiena has taken to social media to share the news with his supporters that he will not be able to compete in the upcoming Asian Indoor Championships.
“I am truly heartbroken to share this news. I shall be unable to participate in the upcoming Asian Indoor Championships next week in Kazakhstan. I won’t be able to bring glory to my country,” he writes in his Instagram caption.
“I am not injured or sick. I am physically and mentally ready to go. To compete. To fight for gold for The Philippines.”
Though he is fit and prepared to compete, Obiena will be unable to do so due to logistical and financial reasons.
A heartbreaking reality
The Filipino Olympian listed two main reasons for the news.
“First, 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 17-hour drive.
“Most Asian pole vaulters I know have pulled out for the same reason. It’s a sad state when the best vaulters in Asia are excluded from competing in the biggest indoor championships in Asia.
“The second issue is continuing financial issues. 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.
“Due to these two factors, I shall be unable to compete in the Asian Indoor Championships. My heart is broken. It’s a missed opportunity for me to fight for Gold for the Philippines,” he explained.
Despite the disappointment Obiena feels toward the situation, he is still trying to remain optimistic by looking ahead to his upcoming competitions.
“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. Thank you all for your support and understanding,” he concluded.
Banner image from EJ Obiena on Instagram.