THE Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) welcomed the breakthrough gold medal the Philippines won Saturday in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia courtesy of marathoner Mary Joy Tabal.
More so the sight of the ‘prodigal’ runner finally burying the hatchet with athletics chief Philip Ella Juico.
PSC chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez lauded both Tabal and Juico for putting their spat behind them as the two were seen in a tight hug shortly after the 28-year-old Olympian won for the country first women’s marathon gold in SEA Games history.
“Nakita ko sa picture naka-embrace kay Tabal (Popoy Juico). That’s good for the country,” said Ramirez in a message a few hours after the golden finish of the Cebuano trackster.
Tabal and Juico had a stormy relation since last year’s Rio De Janeiro Olympics up to the months leading to the SEA Games, when the president of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) dropped the lady runner from the athletics roster bound for the Malaysian capital.
But everything was forgotten as Tabal – and athletics – struck gold just hours before the biennial meet formally kicks off.
Ramirez admitted feeling relieved a gold was finally won by the 497-strong Philippine delegation after settling for silver and bronze medals the past few days through archery and sepak takraw.
“We’re happy in the (PSC) board because for the past few days, nakita ko we’re happy of silver and bronze. But we are worried of the number of medals that we’re going to win,” said the PSC chairman, who is currently in Davao for the regular staging of the Children’s Games.
“So, sabi ko ang tagal naman nung gold na yun.”
Ramirez immediately informed Malacanang about Tabal’s victory through Presidential Management Staff head Bong Go.
And he hopes the golden feat would lead to a lot more as the Filipino athletes try to win the 50 gold medals predicted by chef de mission Cynthia Carrion.
“I’m very happy with the first gold medal of Tabal. I hope it will break our hope of more gold medals along the way,” said Ramirez.