THE Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) remains in high spirits as far as its campaign in the Southeast Asian Games is concerned despite getting embroiled in another issue with its so-called prodigal daughter.
Patafa president Philip Ella Juico said no amount of distractions could make the Filipino tracksters lose focus in their training for the August 19-31 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Juico is confident about the country’s chances and believes surpassing the five gold medals it won in track and field during the Singapore edition of the meet two years ago is achievable.
At the moment, the Patafa chief feels he already has sure golds in reigning SEA Games sprint king Eric Cray, pole vaulter Ernest Obiena, triple jump’s Mark Harry Diones, and long jumper Janry Ubas, who recently leapt 7.88 meter during the Patafa time trials last week to surpass the 7.75 meter jump of Supanara of Thailand in winning the gold in Singapore.
“They are much better than the three golds I mentioned in Congress two to three weeks ago,” said Juico, recalling his appearance in a Lower House inquiry into the country’s SEA Games campaign two months from now.
Juico’s optimism in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel on Tuesday comes on the heels of Patafa’s decision to drop Olympian marathoner Mary Joy Tabal from the national team roster for what officials describe as her utter lack of respect for federation rules and regulations.
Tabal represented the country in marathon during last year’s Rio Olympics and was a silver medalist in Singapore in 2015.
Although not guaranteed of winning a gold in the Kuala Lumpur Games, the 27-year-old pride of Cebu remains as the country’s best woman marathoner.
But a misunderstanding with Patafa officials and coaches led to her getting the ax.
“I just want to stress two points here. One, we represent the Patafa community, the athletes and coaches, and what we’re doing is to preserve and protect the community and the value that it stands for,” said Juico in the same forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Golden Phoenix Hotel, Accel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. where he was joined by secretary-general Renato Unso, national coach Jojo Posadas, and marketing manager Edward Kho.
“And second is technical excellence and adherence to core life,” he added. “We try to be fair to all our athletes. Walang special treatment dito, walang VIP treatment dito.”
Asked if there's still a chance for Tabal to be reinstated, Juico said, “We wiill cross the bridge when we get there.”
But the Patafa chief admitted it won’t be easy especially with the federation needing to deal with majority of the national team members.
“We have a community of athletes here, and we value their feelings and beliefs on issues like this,” Juico said. “So we’ll think of the welfare of athletes and coaches who have been very professional about what we’re doing.”