Freeman Cebu Sports

Joy Tabal gets green light to Rio Olympics

Emmanuel B. Villaruel - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - All's well that ends well.

Putting their differences aside, the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) has reinstated Mary Joy Tabal to the national team, thereby giving the Cebuana long distance running star the green light to represent the country in the Rio Olympics this August in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

"We are pleased to inform you that the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association, Inc. (PATAFA) has decided to grant your request for reinstatement as a member of the Philippine national Athletic team," said PATAFA President Philip Ella Juico in a letter to Tabal dated June 14, 2016.

PATAFA's move was warmly accepted by Tabal and her major supporter, Motor Ace Philippines, represented by brothers Jonel and Chippy Borromeo.

"I would like to thank PATAFA for allowing me to return to the national team. Thank you Sir (Juico) for giving me a chance to represent the country," said Tabal.

"PATAFA's decision is received with great excitement and motivation. Thank you for making Rio possible (for Tabal), it is every athlete's dream to represent their motherland in the world arena," said Motor Ace president Jonel Borromeo.

PATAFA's decision came a day after what Juico described as a 'fruitful' meeting with Tabal and her team.

The two parties had a falling out last year when Tabal resigned from the national team. That is the main reason why she still needs PATAFA's blessings to book a ticket to Rio despite she already met the Olympic standard qualifying time of 2:45 by clocking in two hours, 43 minutes and 29 seconds during the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in Canada two weeks ago.

Everything is now water under the bridge.

In an official statement sent to different media outlets, Juico said ever since, they look after the welfare and best interest of Tabal.

"We have long wanted to protect Mary Joy and we have questioned her racing schedule and its effects on her ability to sustain steady improvements over time. However, we also recognize she did qualify on her own. So we  put our differences aside, we reinstated her, and we have allowed her to follow her own training program, despite our concerns. And we hope for the best in Rio for the nation," said Juico.

"Notwithstanding our reservations about Mary Joy's athletic activities and decisions, we strongly feel that it is to her best interest  to follow the regimen and program she and her personal coaches have since adopted when they started aiming for the Olympic qualifying standard all the way to the competition day at the Olympics," added the former Philippine Sports Commission chairman.

Juico made it clear though that representation for technical and ministerial concerns, through the designated national coach who will accompany Tabal, prior to and during competition will be the only instance where PATAFA commits to involve itself in her Rio Olympics participation.

"She (Tabal) and her sponsor will have the liberty to bring her personal coaches to Rio at  their own expense," said Juico.

Juico said Tabal's continued membership in the national team is dependent on her compliance with the pertinent rules and regulations of the PATAFA and other organizations related to PATAFA.

Once PATAFA will submit her name as one of Phl's qualified athletes to the quadrennial sports conclave, Tabal will make history as the first ever Pinay to compete in an Olympic marathon event. (FREEMAN)


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