Japanese pole vaulter uses newfound 'fame' for good of the sport

Japan's Hiroki Ogita competes in the Men's Pole Vault Qualifying Round during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 13, 2016.

Story highlights

  • Japanese pole vaulter refutes allegations that his genitalia cost him a foul
  • He hopes to use the notoriety he has gained on social media to raise interest in pole vaulting
  • Fans world over Tweet their support for the athlete

(CNN)The last thing a competing athlete wants to see going viral on social media are allegations that his penis thwarted his Olympic dream. But that's what happened to Japanese pole vaulter Hiroki Ogita earlier this week.

Ogita was initially dismayed by the mockery, but has now used his notoriety to bring attention to the sport of pole vaulting.
    "This is a bit tough, but in some ways this is gaining a lot of attention and I think that might be a good opportunity," wrote Ogita in a Tweet.
    "I'd really like to produce a solid result next time. Please come and see the competition at least once at the stadium. It would be great if people could see what a great sport pole vaulting is," added Ogita.
    Ogita is a 28-year-old athlete from Kanagawa prefecture in Japan whose personal best is 5.70 meters. Ogita, ranked 21st in the world, has previously competed in the World Athletics Championships in Moscow in 2013 and Beijing in 2015.
    Claims that his genitalia hit the bar and made it fall as he vaulted circulated on social media sites like Twitter and online platforms like Reddit. Many foreign media articles also made the same claims in their reports.
    So you think you can pole vault?
    Coy Pole Vault pkg_00003606


      So you think you can pole vault?


    So you think you can pole vault? 01:08
    Ogita, however, refuted these claims, asserting that those who suggested that his genitalia had caused a foul had their facts wrong.
    "I have a lot of things to report. I have changed my account name and therefore lost my blue tick. I didn't think I'd get hassled this much by foreign media. I'm shocked this false information would be found amusing and spoken ill of so much," he said, in Twitter post on August 17.
    While the Japanese Olympic Committee in Rio told CNN that it had no official comment on the matter, a spokesperson from the Japan Association of Athletics Federation was angry the matter even made the news.
    "We're disappointed by the way this is being portrayed in the media," the spokesperson told CNN. "It's important to remember that a foul is announced when a person's body hits the bar. In the sporting world, we don't concern ourselves over what part."
    Twitter users responded to Ogita's 15 minutes of fame the way they usually do -- with snarky comments and cheeky jokes.
    "Size matters apparently," @Anjoseuters tweeted.
    "Japanese Pole Vaulter Loses At The #Olympics... But His Manhood Is Now Famous," @PSDRedZone tweeted.
    Meanwhile, @baedailynews observed that the Olympics is sometimes "a game of inches" while @BonaTweetette advised those who wanted to get ahead in Rio 2016 to "bring your own pole."
    Japan's Uchimura, US' Ledecky thrill fans
    Japan's Uchimura, US' Ledecky thrill fans


      Japan's Uchimura, US' Ledecky thrill fans


    Japan's Uchimura, US' Ledecky thrill fans 01:39
    Ogita's fans also Tweeted their support for the Olympian whose hopes of a medal were denied this time.
    "We're hopeful for the next time!! Please aim to be number one!! We're backing you!"
    As the saga unfolded, Ogita changed his Twitter handle to escape some of the online commotion -- a move that cost him his certified blue tick. However, by the end, Ogita started seeing the funny side of the affair.
    "When I look back at it it's quite amusing," wrote Ogita on Twitter, followed by a character representing laughter in Japanese.