BARELY two days before competing in an all-important event, Olympic-bound Ernest John Obiena criticized an article written on the Olympic Channel, insisting that he was never interviewed by the writer and urged the website run by the International Olympic Committee to revise the piece.
“I just read something today (Tuesday) and I was quoted in the article with some provocative statements. To be clear: I have never spoken with the Olympic Channel nor did I EVER make such statements,” Obiena said on Instragram last Tuesday of the article written by Ken Browne and first posted last Sept. 11.
The story’s original headline was “Filipino Eagle EJ Obiena: ‘Armand (Duplantis) is good, but I can be the best.’”
In apparent response to Obiena’s criticism, the same article came up yesterday with the new headline “Filipino eagle EJ Obiena: In it to win it.”
Swedish-American star Armand Duplantis is the men’s pole vault world record holder at 6.18 meters and is the headliner of the Pietro Mennea Golden Gala, the Rome leg of the Diamond League athletic series that will be held at the 70,000-capacity Stadio Olimpico today in the Italian capital.
The country’s first Olympic qualifier, who competes regularly with Duplantis in the European circuit, Obiena is seeing action against a crack field that includes veteran Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, the 2012 London Olympic Games gold medalist; and Polish Piotr Lisek, a bronze medalist in the 2019 world championships held in Doha, Qatar.
The trackfest named after Italian Olympic 200-meter champion Pietro Mennea starts at 6 p.m. (midnight in Manila).
The last time that Duplantis and Obiena squared off was in the Monaco stop of the Diamond League in mid-August, with the former ruling the event by clearing six meters flat and the latter placing third, clearing 5.70 meters.
“To the people who know me, they know through personal experience that I would never say such a statement,” Obiena said. “Whilst I am of course confident in my own capabilities and potential, I respect all of my competitors and most of them are my friends. I would never say anything to disparage my competition.”