LEGENDARY pole vault coach Vitaly Petrov slammed the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) for dropping him as Olympic athlete Ernest John “EJ” Obiena coach.
“[From] the seven years of work that I have done with EJ, I have never heard Patafa or Mr. Philip [Ella] Juico ask me what they can do to help me develop EJ,” the 84-year-old Petrov said in a statement on Wednesday, the same day the Philippine Olympic Committee General Assembly declared Juico as persona non grata.
“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 sport 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?” Petrov said.
Petrov expressed displeasure over Patafa president Juico for accusing Obiena of funds embezzlement and estafa and “destroying the athlete’s reputation and credibility.”
“I have helped him [EJ] jump 5.93m, which is the current Asian record,” the Ukranian added. “Money has never been an issue. There are even times where I spend my own money, like paying for a gymnastic coach to help EJ improve,” he said, noting that it’s all about his passion for coaching to reach the athlete’s maximum potential.”
“Now that the time has come for EJ to realize his hard work; reap the reward of our time and effort then suddenly Patafa cancels me as their coach,” Petrov said. “I was never Philip Juico’s pole vault coach, I am the coach of Thiago Braz, Sergey Bubka, Yelena Isinbayeva and EJ Obiena. I am proudly the coach of these hardworking athletes.”
Russian-Ukrainian Bubka owns six world championships gold medals, three world indoor titles and one Olympic gold medal, while Russian Isinbayeva was Olympics gold medalist twice, world championships three times and world indoor champion four times. Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva was the Rio 2016 Olympics gold medalist.