Mishandling Obiena


FIRST, EJ Obiena, the pole vault ace from Tondo, Manila, was called a thief.  That he stole the salary of his Ukrainian (not Russian) coach, Vitaly Petrov.

That’s a charge as serious as it can be.

Next, Obiena was accused of not giving Petrov’s salary on time. That Obiena must explain the delayed payment.

Which is which?  Did he steal or did he delay the delivery of Petrov’s salary?

Stealing money is bad per se.  It sort of destroys your reputation.  Forever almost.

Not if it’s bread you pilfered that goes straight to the mouth of your hungry son.  That’s still a crime, yes, but for the right reason.  Forgivable in both the eyes of man and God.

Sadly, the twin accusations against Obiena were hurled by his own federation, the Patafa (Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association) headed by Philip Ella Juico.

Why the mess had to be splattered for public viewing has put Obiena in a bad light.  As the accused, he’s on the defensive.  He could now be a victim of trial by publicity?

To be honest, the Patafa could be at fault here.

It should have treated the case privately and resolved it minus the public glare.

I have a question: Since 2014, why did Patafa allow Obiena to give Petrov’s salary?  Isn’t that weird?

Is it true Patafa has no contract with Petrov, who receives nearly P115,000 a month? Weirder.

Even as Obiena placed a mere 11th among 12 entries in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last July, he has redeemed himself quick as he set a new Asian mark in a world-class event in Austria.

Only 26, he oozes with potential, especially now that he’s crashed into the world rankings.  But with him now being thrust, tossed, ugly into the spotlight, the future looks bleak.  No more 2024 Paris Olympics for him?

He has hinted on it.

“If they won’t issue a public apology to clear my name, I might be forced to quit the sport I love,” Obiena has said.

It is hardest to find and develop a talent like Obiena. Without a doubt, he has become an elite athlete.

But we seem to be mishandling him—if we haven’t mishandled him already?

Woe yet again to Philippine sports.

THAT’S IT Congrats to TNT Tropang Giga for winning the inaugural 3×3 tournament of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). That calls for a celebration anew as it came on the heels of TNT’s recent triumph in the PBA Philippine Cup. League commissioner Willie Marcial deserves a pat on the back, too, for vigorously pursuing the 3×3’s breakthrough blast-off, ominously coming at a time when the pandemic appears to be fast waning—thank God…Warmest greetings to my boss here, Sir Jun Lomibao!  Happy birthday, Aro!…Also, happy birthday to Admiral Luisito “Louie” Fernandez (ret.).  Here’s wishing for many more birthdays to come your way, fellas!

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