CEBUANA runner Mary Joy Tabal, who quit the national team last December to train on her own, made the cut to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Tabal, representing Cebu City, clocked two hours, 43 minutes and 31 seconds, to finish eighth overall in the women’s division of the 2016 Scotia Bank Marathon in Ottawa last Sunday(Monday morning in Manila).
She became the second Filipino trackster to hit the Olympic qualifying standard, which was reset from 2:42 to 2:45 last December.
The 26-year-old Tabal surpassed the national record which Jhoann Banayag set in the 2007 Southeast Asian Games at 2:44.2.
Her efforts surprised the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, and Tabal will need to seek reinstatement with the national team to be able to make it the Olympiad.
PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico congratulated Tabal for her performance, saying they are now in the process of verifying her time with tournament officials. They will also inform the International Amateur Athletic Federation of this development.
Juico added that Tabal needs to follow the proper procedure to be able to join the national contingent to the Rio Games.
“She has nothing to represent. She is not part of the national team because she resigned last December. So she has to write a letter to us and apply for reinstatement,” said Juico.
Tabal joined sprinter Eric Cray as the only other legitimate qualifier to the Games.
This also put in doubt long jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang’s own bid to go to the Games.
Juico explained that Torres-Sunang’s named was entered under the presumption that there was no other qualifier in the women’s division.
“Mag-iiba na naman. I don’t know what will happen (to Marestella) and what we can do in one and a half month’s time,” added Juico.
Tabal’s feat comes some 13 days before the final qualification date for the Rio Games, which ends on July 11.
According to results released on the competition’s official website, Ethiopian runner Koren Jelela took the women’s honors in 2:27.05.4, followed in second by Aberu Mekuria (2:29:50.4), and third placer Sechale Delasa (2:32:45.5).
Tabal’s performance earned her a prize money of $1,000.
Last December, Tabal decided to leave the national team to train on her own, with her coach Philip Duenas, in her hometown in Guba.
She also wanted to focus on helping Cebuano kids who are under a grassroots program for running she started with the help of the Cebu City Sports Commission.
Last March, she went to Japan in a training camp for the recent Boston Marathon, with coach and former Olympian Akio Usami, and at the Nippon Sports Science University in Yokohama.
Private sponsors like Moto Ace Phils., GGCC, Asics, Moto Ace Kawasaki and Citi gym came forward to support her cause.
Her stint in the Boston Marathon came after she won the women’s title in the 39th National Milo Marathon.
She wound up 20th place finish in the Boston meet, with a time of 2:49:01.