EJ Obiena earned praise for standing up for what he felt was right during the men’s pole vault final of the Tokyo Olympics.
A ‘gray area’ during his final attempt at 5.80 meters prompted Obiena to plead his case before officials. Eventually, Obiena was later given another chance, although he failed to clear the height and finished 11th.
On Wednesday, Obiena explained his action.
“I’ve been raised to be a timid kind of guy but I’ve always believed that if I’m on the right place or I truly believe I’m right, I'd fight for it,” said Obiena during a press conference organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.
“That’s basically just what I did. It just so happened that it’s an Olympic final and it got a spotlight and got the attention. But I do it every single day.”
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Despite his plea, Obiena was unable to battle for medal with the gold winner going to heavy favorite Armand Duplantis. But his successful plea to get another attempt was lauded by most Filipinos.
Obiena said he is the kind of person that would fight for what is right but in a respectable manner just like what he did on Tuesday.
“If I truly believe I’m right, I would always talk but in a good manner. I just say this is my perspective. I would want to see it but hopefully, you would understand it and I would want to fight for it. This is what I believe in. It’s truly, deep inside, this is right. That’s basically what I did.”
Obiena said he is happy with the positive response, hoping that it would also spur more Filipinos to do it.
“I’m very happy that people look up or praise my actions. I believe everybody should be able to do that. Doesn’t matter [what] your status [is]. If you are a manager, you are a clerk, you are the sanitary personnel, you should be able to confide and be able to speak your thoughts.
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"I’m not saying not to disrespect the order. Iba ‘yung disrespect the order or hierarchy of the positions. But if you truly believe you are right, there is always a right way to explain it and there is always a right way to fight for it.
“I believe that is something that is a little bit left out. Us Filipinos are very timid. We are very ‘Yes po, Yes po, Yes po.’ But sometimes, you know [puwede rin] ‘Wait lang po puwede?’ Puwedeng ganun. ‘Wait lang po, may idea po ako’ or ‘Wait lang po, eto ‘yung tingin kong tama.’ I believe everybody should do it.”