‘Bring Joy to Rio’

“IT happened before and we don’t want that to happen again.”

This is the stand of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia on the Olympic stint for the country’s top marathoner Mary Joy Tabal. Garcia said in a telephone interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday said that the PSC and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) are supporting Tabal oinn her quest to join the Rio Olympics.

The 26-year-old Tabal clinched an Olympic berth after clocking 2 hours 43 minutes and 30 seconds in the ScotiaBank Ottawa Marathon last weekend. The Olympic qualifying time for the women’s marathon is 2:45.

Tabal needs the endorsement of both POC and the Philippine Amateur Track and Field (Patafa), the national sports association (NSA) for Philippine athletics. The POC is willing to endorse Tabal, however, Patafa is asking Tabal to write a letter of reinstatement to the national team first. Tabal resigned from the national team last year.

Ang problema lang ngayon, Patafa is not yet moving. I don’t know what they are waiting for. Kasi kami sa gobyerno (PSC) hindi kami pwede pumili ng athlete, that is the function of POC and NSA. The POC and NSA have to talk and resolve the issue between the two of them,” said Garcia.

Garcia said that he already talked to POC President Jose Cojuangco Jr. regarding this issue and he is behind Tabal.

“We talked with Congressman Cojuangco and he said that he will make sure and do everything so that Tabal can go to the Olympics,” he said.

Garcia pointed out that this is not the first time the POC and an NSA had different stands on an athlete’s accreditation. It happened before, not in athletics, but in cycling.

He said that during Laos Southeast Asian (Sea) Games, POC accredited Marites Bitbit, but the NSA for cycling did not. With the disagreement of two parties, Bitbit was not able to play even if she’s already in Laos. It was also that time that the Philippines had two delegations in the SEA Games, two secretariats and even two media bureaus—one supported by the PSC, the other supported by the POC.

Record-breaker

“She (Tabal) broke the Philippine record and got the qualifying time. The athlete is determined and even without the support she continued to chase her dream. She should be sent to Rio Olympics. Ano ba kailangan nila na yung President (of POC) na dapat ang magsabi na ipadala niyo yan,” he said.

Garcia said that the PSC is very supportive on the athletes who will qualify to the Olympics, but the decision will be on POC and NSA.

The Patafa president Philip Ella Juico earlier said that Tabal need to write a letter of reinstatement and the board will decide after that.

Garcia said that based on his experience the POC and NSA will have to endorse the athlete, but he does know yet if it’s the same goes with International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF).

“In my experience dalawa dapat mag endorse, but I don’t know if the IAAF has a rule requiring two of them to endorse or one would do,” he said, when asked if what will happen if Tabal does not get the two endorsements.

Garcia said that it’s an honor to have a Filipina athlete qualify to the Olympics, and win or lose qualifying itself is already an achievement.

He said that things will be clear on the next few days as they will have a meeting with POC on Friday and the Olympic berth of Tabal will surely be discussed on the meeting.

“The Patafa can attend, I think it would be best if POC will invite them,” he said.

The Cebuana Tabal, who’s a silver medalist in Sea Games, is the first Filipina marathoner to qualify to the Olympics. The qualifying race of Tabal and her training was supported by Motor Ace Philippines/Kawasaki Team.

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