Aiming for Rio, Tabal agrees to return to PATAFA

Mars G. Alison

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Aiming for Rio, Tabal agrees to return to PATAFA
Long-distance runner Mary Joy Tabal wants to move on and focus on her dream of competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Mary Joy Tabal and the Motor Ace Racing Team are willing to work with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) so she can represent the country at the Rio Olympics.

This was announced Monday night, June 6, by Motor Ace Philippines president Jonel Borromeo and Tabal herself during the welcome party and press conference organized by the team at the Casino Español de Cebu for her successful return from Canada on Sunday.

Controversy surrounds Tabal’s inclusion in the Rio Olympics after she resigned from the Philippine national team last year.

Tabal was previously tagged as a defiant athlete after she joined too many long distance races, going against PATAFA instructions.

Despite her resignation, Tabal continued to train and eventually clinched a qualifying berth to the Rio Olympics last week after clocking 2 hours, 43 minutes, and 30 seconds in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. The Olympic qualifying time for the women’s marathon is 2:45.

However, her feat does not mean she will automatically be going to the Olympics, because she has not been reinstated to the national team. PATAFA said Tabal must first write them a letter requesting for reinstatement.

RECOGNITION. Mike Limpag, the new president of the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC), presents Mary Joy Tabal with the Athlete of the Year award for the 2016 Cebu Sports Awards. Photo by Mars G. Alison/Rappler

Even before Tabal returned from Canada, Borromeo already met with PATAFA chief Philip Ella Juico last Friday, June 3, to discuss Tabal’s reinstatement to the national team so she can compete in Rio.

“We have agreed to go through the procedure, we will request for her reinstatement because it is necessary for her to be recognized as a national team member. We will start the process tomorrow (Tuesday, June 7). We will work on it in the morning and hopefully submit it in the afternoon,” Borromeo said.

Tabal clarified that when she decided to resign in 2015, Motor Ace was not yet her sponsor. She only joined the Motor Ace Racing Team January this year.

Borromeo said that had they already been in the picture when Tabal made the decision to resign, he would have sat down with her and her coach, John Philip Duenas, and assessed if that was the best move for her.

Tabal, for her part, said she would like to move on and focus on her dream of competing in the Olympics.

“We will come up with an agreement on what’s best for them and what’s best for me,” Tabal said.

While Motor Ace works on Tabal’s reinstatement to the national team, she will resume training on Friday, June 10.

Duenas said the plan is to send Tabal to Japan by the end of June and have her train there for two months.

Borromeo, however, clarified that the Japan trip will push through only if the reinstatement in the national team is completed and PATAFA approves the trip.

“I am looking at this in an optimistic way. We are working on a proper approach, proper process, no shortcuts,” he said.

There are also reports that PATAFA wants Tabal to drop her corporate sponsors in order for her to be back in the national team.

Borromeo clarified that PATAFA only wants to monitor agreements between athletes and sponsors, but added that they would be willing to let go of Tabal if it would mean the fulfillment of her Olympic goal.

“This is not just about Joy, but about a Filipino athlete’s dream.” –

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