EJ Obiena, left, and coach Vitaly Petrov

Vitaly Petrov, the veteran pole vault coach of Olympian EJ Obiena, shared his sentiments about the ongoing dispute between his ward and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).

Reacting for the first time since appearing in an online press briefing a few months back, Petrov expressed his disappointment on social media about how Patafa has been treating Obiena regarding the allegations on misuse of coaching funds.

“If this federation is dropping a world-class athlete instead of helping, drops his coach who have trained him to be one of the best pole vaulters, brands a sports patron persona non grata who have done nothing but helped bring this Filipino boy to where he is now, then I ask, what is this federation doing?” the 84-year-old Ukrainian mentor wrote in his Facebook post Wednesday.

Petrov was referring to the earlier recommendation of the Patafa administrative committee on the filing of a legal complaint and expulsion of Obiena from the national team, the termination of Petrov as Patafa coach and the declaration of “persona non grata” to athletics patron Jim Lafferty.

Obiena, on Monday, formally withdrew his participation from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) mediation process with Patafa and the decision could pave the way for these recommendations to push through.

“In my humble view, I have helped a young boy from a country that didn’t have the history or the resources to create a world-class pole vaulter. Now that EJ is finally a Top 5 pole vaulter in the world, his own federation president kicks him out of the team for nothing,” Petrov said.

“In my opinion, athletes should only be thinking about their training and performance. Everything else is an additional burden and distraction that they don’t need.”

Petrov, who has been coaching Obiena at a training camp in Formia, Italy, has coached several world-class athletes that include renowned athlete Sergey Bubka, three-time world champion Yelena Isinbayeva, world champions Fabiana Murer and Giuseppe Gibilisco and 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist Thiago Braz.

“I am a coach who has trained and prepared multiple world champions, Olympic champions/record holder and 30 world records under my 57 years of coaching pole vault. Never have I been scorned by any federation of any nation that I have worked with,” Petrov said.

Meanwhile, Obiena shared his gratitude to Petrov especially in these trying times.

“If there is anyone that I owe my pole vault career to, it is Vitaly Petrov. I am truly sorry coach for the mess that this has brought you,” Obiena wrote in a separate social media post.

Obiena recalled that Petrov was the one who lifted his spirits after feeling depressed when he tore his Acute Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in 2017.

“I don’t know why a coach who has won it all and has all the options in the world would still want me, a guy with a broken leg. Long story short, I went back and fought for my place and here we are,” Obiena wrote.

“Thank you coach for always looking out for me, for wanting me to be the best that I can possibly be, for pushing me to represent my country honorably, to always carry myself with pride and honor, a true representative of my country and to be the best version that I can be.”


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2022/01/26/petrov-dismayed-over-obiena-patafa-dispute/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=petrov-dismayed-over-obiena-patafa-dispute)