Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena may not have gotten an Olympic medal in Tokyo but he still heaped praises from his fans after bravely asking the Games’ officials to reset his time in one of his attempts in the finals on Tuesday.
During his third attempt for the 5.80-meter mark, Obiena had a discussion with the officials about his one-minute allotted time to jump.
The Pinoy athlete was arguing that he couldn’t start his attempt to jump because the bar was still moving and asked if his time could be reset. After a few minutes of conversation, he was allowed to make another attempt but was not able to clear the mark.
“I was arguing a little bit with the Japanese guy in the officiating table. I was saying, 'How do you expect me to jump? You give me a minute to jump, which means everything is supposed to be set. So how I can jump if the bar is still moving,’” Obiena recalled during the press conference on Wednesday.
However, he said the officials were nice to him and thanked them for listening to his point of view.
“To be honest they've been very nice, especially the chief official, he's been very nice. He was asking, why is the bar moving when the time is already starting. He was asking me and he was asking his co-officials there, which they understood,” he added.
Obiena ended up tied for 11th place with Bo Kanda Lita Baehre of Germany in his Olympic debut.
The Southeast Games 2019 gold medalist has always been like this -- fighting for what he believed is right.
Obiena said he would always voice out his point of view regardless of the status of the other person.
“I think I've been raised to be a timid kind of guy, but I've always believed, if I truly believe in myself, that I'm on the right place, or if I truly believe I'm right, I would fight for it. So that's basically what I just did. It just so happened that it's an Olympic final. I think it got the spotlight, it got the attention,” he explained.
According to him, at times, he just wanted to be heard and his opinion be considered whenever he spoke out what in his mind.
“But when you truly believe you're right, there's always a right way to explain it, there's always a right way to fight for it, and I believe that's always something that's a little bit left out.”
Prior to competing in Tokyo, Obiena captured the gold medal in the 2019 Asian Championships. He even topped 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz in the 2021 Taby Stavhoppsgala street pole vault tournament in Sweden.
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