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Tabal secures Olympic nod

Mary Joy Tabal has been confirmed as the country’s bet in women’s marathon in the Rio Olympics, the organizing committee told the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) yesterday.

It was William Souza of the Rio Olympics sports entries department who assured the POC of Tabal’s inclusion in the Aug. 5 to 21 sportsfest in a letter sent to chief of mission Joey Romasanta, also the POC’s first vice-president.

Tabal passed the Olympic qualifying mark after an eighth-place finish in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon late last month, submitting a clocking of 2 hours, 43 minutes and 30 seconds, superior than the 2:45.00 time she needed to qualify.

Tabal’s inclusion was without a heavy price to pay after long jumper Marestela Torres was scratched from the list of bets as she was only accepted owing to the principle of universality.

The Patafa never thought that no other woman entry would make the Olympic standard so president Philip Juico nominated Torres as the country’s bet in the women’s class.

But since Tabal has qualified, she took over Torres’ slot and for Torres to get back her slot, she has to meet the Olympic standard in the remaining events.

The road to Rio was rough and bumpy for the 26-year-old Tabal, who had severed ties with the Patafa last year and decided to tap a private group to finance her Olympic buildup.

Motor Ace of Cebu agreed to shoulder Tabal’s training expenses, airfare and participation in various meets but when she made it, the Patafa said she had to apply for reinstatement.

Fortunately, Tabal and Motor Ace and the Patafa were able to patch things up when Tabal applied for reinstatement that was immediately granted.

Apart from Tabal, who intends to fly to Yokohama, Japan, to resume her training, those who have been guaranteed Olympic slots include Ian Lariba of table-tennis, Kirstie Elaine Alora of taekwondo, Charly Suarez and Rogen Ladon of boxing, Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting and Fil-Am Eric Cray of track and field.

Waiting on the wings are golfer Miguel Tabuena, ranked in the mid-30s in the Olympic rankings, and a couple of swimmers as well.

There could be two more boxers qualifying soon as Eumir Marcial and Ian Clark Bautista are about to vie for slots during the world qualifying in Baku, Azerbaijan.