Three-time Olympian Marestella Torres-Sunang continues to compete because of her
love for country and the trust of supporters as she retains her dominant form in
women’s long jump.
“Meron pa ring mga tao na tuloy tuloy ang suporta not just for me but for the whole
national track and field team. At saka iyong pagmamahal ko sa laro tuloy tuloy pa rin,”
said Marestella in reference to Ayala Corporation which supports the Philippine track
and field team and built, through its real estate arm Ayala Land, Inc., the Vermosa
Sports Hub as home to the country’s elite track and field athletes.
Marestella, who lives in Bacoor Cavite, shared that with her training now so near her
home she no longer has to go through the daily Ortigas traffic just to train. This allows
her more time to focus on reaching her peak form as she prepares for the Asian
Games. And since the Vermosa oval is the only IAAF certified track in the country, she
is now able to accurately monitor her performance and peg her progress based on
Along with access to a world-class track oval, Ayala also provides the PATAFA athletes a
hydration program care of Manila Water Company’s Healthy Family Purified Water, as
well as financial support to help improve training and recruitment programs.
The 37-year-old Marestella goes to the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang
Indonesia to be held August 18 to September 2 as one of the country’s best hope for
another Asian Games gold medal.
Indonesia’s Maria Natalia Londa won the women’s long jump gold during the 2014
Asian Games in South Korea with a leap of 6.55. Torres-Sunang beats this mark by a
wide margin with a leap of 6.72 during the Kazakhstan Open July 2016 which is the
national record. The feat assured her participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
She says her giving birth to a son and motherhood are not a hindrance. Rather she
draws motivation from her family and her absence when she gave birth re-ignited her
passion for the sport.
“Noong nag stop ako talagang na-mi-miss ko ang competition. Nag stop ako for one
year. Wala talaga akong competition kasi nabuntis ako. So yon na-miss ko ang
competition. So talagang naging maganda ang comeback ko dahil talagang naging
eager ako na mag compete ulit,” said Marestella.
If anything, she says she is more motivated and more dedicated than ever before.
“Kung ano ang motivation ko noong dalaga pa ako doble ang motivation ko ngayong
may asawa na ako at may anak. Ginagawa ko ito hindi lang para sa akin kundi para sa
anak ko. Gusto ko patunayan na kahit nabuntis ako pwede pa rin. Gusto ko ipakita na
kahit nabuntis ka kung ang dedication mo nandoon pa rin then kaya mo itong gawin,”
The native of San Jose, Negros Oriental has always had to overcome plenty of doubters
and obstacles in her career. She says he has never doubted her ability to succeed.
“Hindi naman naging hadlang sa akin ang mas matatangkad ang mga kalaban ko. Kasi
napatunayan ko na noon pa na kaya ko mag compete against mas matangkad,” said
The veteran has travelled the world representing the country. She is not fazed by the
competition or in performing before an international audience in a world stage. She in
fact welcomes the opportunity to compete against the best in the world which she says
can only help her improve and be the best that she can be as an athlete.
“Nakita ako sa IAAF pag nagko compete ako pumapasok naman ako among the top sa
world. Every time na mag compete ako, ako yung pinakamaliit at nananalo pa rin.
Marami humahanga sa akin dahil ang liit ko pero malakas ako. So doon ako nagkaroon
ng confidence. Kaya ko pala kahit maliit ako. Walang nagiging hadlang sa akin.”
No doubt the support of Ayala for PATAFA’s training and sports development program
will be a big help for Marestella as she continues to dominate the local scene in her
To learn more visit http://www.ayala.com.ph
Ayala Corporation (Ayala) has reaffirmed its support to the development and training of the country’s national track and field athletes, giving them access to the facilities of its newly opened Vermosa Sports Hub in Imus, Cavite.
Ayala had recently linked up with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and served as title sponsor of the just-concluded Ayala Philippine Athletics Championships in Ilagan, Isabela.
“We believe in our national athletes’ potential to inspire, drive and instill collective nationalism through sports,” said Ayala’s John Philip Orbeta. “One of the biggest gaps is an internationally certified athletics facility which the Vermosa Sports Hub provides as a means to improve their performance and competitiveness.”
At PATAFA’s new official home, athletes will train in the only International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) certified track & field oval in the Philippines with specifications and standards equivalent to those they will compete with internationally. Aside from the existing oval and Olympic- sized pool, upon completion of the Sports Hub’s first phase, PATAFA will also have access to the 600-square meter Sante Fitness Lab, a first-of-its- kind combination of facilities in the country, which will feature a strength and conditioning fitness facility, sports rehab areas, a Sports Science Laboratory, a dance studio, a spinning class area, bike shop and services, a nutrition and fitness café, VO2 max/lactate testing, plus conference and lecture rooms. Future plans include a provision for a 3,000 seat multi- purpose indoor sports arena.
Manila Water Company, Inc., through its subsidiary Manila Water Total Solutions (MWTS), will also be supporting this project with Ayala through a hydration sponsorship of Healthy Family Purified Water to the PATAFA athletes. Healthy Family will be supplying 4,000 bottles monthly of its 500ml variant to PATAFA for the duration of their training at Vermosa.
As advocates of environmental sustainability, MWTS will also be working together with PATAFA on a program called “Toka ng PATAFA”. This program is an advocacy on environmental stewardship and responsible consumerism that helps promote the value of waste segregation through the recovery of used PET (polyethylene) bottles. This is an initiative to be spearheaded by our athletes as champions for health and wellness, as well as, staunch partners for the environment.
Ayala will provide financial support to facilitate and strengthen PATAFA’s recruitment and training programs.
“Ayala’s support will help the athletes train better, perform better and hopefully bring more medals and recognition for the country,” said PATAFA President Philip Juico.
The eagerness to help improve the skills and international ranking of our national athletes has spurred the Ayala Group to do its part in helping Filipino athletes achieve excellence in their respective sports and succeed in various international competitions.
Official Statement on reinstatement of Mary Joy Tabal
We have long wanted to protect Mary Joy and we have questioned her racing schedule and its effects on her ability to sustain steady improvements over time. However, we also recognize she did qualify on her own. So we put our differences aside, we reinstated her, and we have allowed her to follow her own training program, despite our concerns. And we hope for the best in Rio for the nation.
Notwithstanding our reservations about Mary Joy’s athletic activities and decisions, we strongly feel that it is to her best interest to follow the regimen and program she and her personal coaches have since adopted when they started aiming for the Olympic qualifying standard all the way to the competition day at the Olympics.
Representation for technical and ministerial concerns, through the designated national coach who will accompany her, prior to and during competition will be the only instance where PATAFA commits to involve itself in her Rio Olympics participation. She and her sponsor will have the liberty to bring her personal coaches to Rio at their own expense.
PATAFA’s Official Letter to Mary Joy Tabal:
The Curious Case of Mary Joy Tabal – What it truly means for her to represent the Philippines in the Rio Olympics
The running community recently celebrated the success of Mary Joy Tabal hitting the Olympic standard for marathon. Joy ran a 2:43:30-hour marathon time at the 2016 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, beating the 2:45-hour standard for her to join the Olympics. While the running community celebrates, there are mixed feelings inside the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).
PATAFA is the national governing body for athletics sports such as track and field, road running, cross country running, and race walking in the Philippines. It provides guidance and support to select athletes to perform their best and represent the country. PATAFA has a rich history of coaching, even enrolling the help of athletes like the legendary Dick Beardsley to help with training its athletes.
PATAFA is responsible for selecting the official track and field delegation of the Philippines to the Olympics. But it has a sad history with Mary Joy Tabal.
In October 2014, Mary Joy Tabal, along with other standout athletes, was recommended by the coaching staff to be included in the national team. Four months later in February 2015, PATAFA communicated Tabal’s official inclusion to national team. This means that she is now part of the privileged few who would receive coaching so that she can represent the country in milestone events like the SEA Games and the Olympics.
Part of PATAFA’s responsibilities would be to keep national athletes at their best. It means helping them make choices on training, including the races to run. This is very important for long distance events like the marathon. In elite athletics, marathoners should not take part in more than two marathon races within a span of 12 months. Based on scientific studies, participation in a marathon taxes the body tremendously down to the cellular level.
From a layman’s standpoint, Elites may just appear as running effortlessly at a constant pace for 42KM.But inside the body of the elite marathoner running an average pace of 3:45min/KM is a totally different story. Running a marathon at this pace imposes a huge demand on the different physiological systems of the body.It strains the bones and joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, to the extent that challenges the maximal limit of the athlete’s body.
PATAFA takes care of its long distance athletes that is why these physiological facts are explained to the athletes in detail. It is also why PATAFA requires agreement to rules and regulations that come with being part of the National team. This includes consistently informing PATAFA of athletic activities that may potentially hinder performance in offical events where the country is represented.
Mary Joy Tabal was a special case. Because of her talent, she was granted certain exceptions. For example, while other athletes were required to relocate to the Philsports training camp and be supervised by duly designated national coaches, Joy was allowed to be based in Cebu. She received special treatment upon her request. It was an assumption that her personal coach would be able to provide guidance, but with inputs from PATAFA.
Slowly, these exceptions, became a source of alarm to PATAFA. Tabal began racing without discretion; meaning, she runs and wins events but with a long term negative impact on her legs.
Prior to her inclusion into the national team, Tabal won the December 2014 Milo Marathon Finals. Apart from the cash prize she, she and the male marathon champion Rafael Poliquit were awarded an all expense paid entry to the 2015 Los Angeles (LA) Marathon. They were, of course, advised by the PATAFA leadership to forego the LA Marathon trip as it would impact their training for the forthcoming 2015 SEA Games. Participating too soon in a race would also adversely affect their long term athletic performance. Aside from this, PATAFA had already developed a two-year program for both of them to reach their optimum potential as marathoners with the 2016 Olympics as the ultimate goal. This meant being selective with their races, to give the Philippines the best opportunity during the Olympic games.
Unfortunately, both advice and explanation went unheeded. Both Tabal and Poliquit raced the LA Marathon without sanction from PATAFA. Upon their return from the US, they were asked to submit a letter of explanation why they have disregarded the express advise of PATAFA.
Immediately, Poliquit drew up a letter of apology, citing error in judgment for his non-compliance and promised to abide with the NSA directives and regulations from then on. Poliquit’s case was then resolved and closed. Tabal’s case had a different twist.
Instead of writing a letter of apology, or explanation at the very least, Tabal wrote a lengthy letter of justification for her decision. She cited that Milo pressured her to join the LA Marathon as part of her “contractual” obligation in winning the Milo Marathon. PATAFA sought the side of Milo; the latter denied that it ever pressured Tabal to run the LA Marathon. They maintained that the LA Marathon participation was actually a privilege for the Milo Marathon winners, and not an obligation. In short, it was up to the winners to take that privilege. They were disappointed that Tabal lied.
But the racing continued. Even after the LA Marathon, Tabal went on joining local races, with 21K as minimum distances. She continued to disregard her obligation as a National Team member, disheartening teammates who abided by the PATAFA guidelines, and lowered her chances of peak performance at the 2015 SEA Games where she was to represent the country.
While disappointed, PATAFA retained their belief in Tabal. Some officers saw Tabal’s potential and the missed opportunity if she won’t be able to compete in the SEA Games. With insistent prodding, Tabal submitted an apology message so that she can compete. Instead of writing a formal apology letter, she sent a short casual text message to PATAFA President Philip Juico.
Juico, in his genuineness, never took slight and believed in Tabal’s apology over SMS. He took it as an indication of Tabal’s sincerity. Tabal then competed in the SEA Games and as predicted, ran very poorly with a time of 3:15 hours. Her time was estimated to be at least 20 minutes better had she listened to the PATAFA and kept her commitment as a National Team athlete.
Right after the SEA Games, PATAFA learned that Tabal was again joining a string of local long distance races. This included a triathlon event that would severely impact the long term plans for the Olympics. PATAFA leadership was very unhappy with Tabal’sdecisions, and what they discovered to be her unmanageableand prideful attitude. They directed her to submit a letter of explanation for the unsanctioned activities and for continuing to disregard her responsibilities as a National Athlete.
Tabal responded on August 13, 2015: a 3-page, impeccably written, legalese sounding resignation letter. Saddened by the loss of potential, PATAFA President Philip Juico accepted her resignation.
All the while, as she continued winning races, Tabal remains a hero. She is fast and strong, and there was never a mention of how she conducts herself outside of the races. She is portrayed as a hero. In fact, a Cinderella who trains on her own and blossoms into a winner in all the events she joins.
This is the reason why PATAFA is having such a conflicted time with Joy’s qualification to the Olympic Standard. Achieving the standard is an eligibility to be included in the competition; it is not an outright prerogative. In order to join the Olympics, Tabal first needed to make herself be part of the national team and commit herself to the team and to the body that governs the team. But she was unwilling to make that commitment and in fact, voluntarily resigned from the National Team in 2015.
Everyone immediately presumes Tabal’s inclusion into the Philippine Olympic team. But that presumption is tantamount to penalizing all national team members who have toiled under the challenging conditions of being a national athlete and remained faithful to the sport and the association. After all of what Tabal has demonstrated to PATAFA, it is now a difficult decision to endorse her as a representative of the Philippines, selected to mirror the ideals and attitudes of the country.
This decision matters because Tabal will never win the Olympics. Her participation is a matter of pride for the Philippines, and supposedly a personal honor for her.
Tabal’s qualifying time is 2:43 hours. She is far from the Women’s leading time of 2:19 hours, while the top 23rdwomen marathoner clocked in at 2:27 hours. “Team B” qualifiers for the US Team is 2:45 hours. By extrapolation, Tabal’s time will put her outside the top 100. If ever she makes it in the Olympics, right before she steps into the starting line, she’s already guaranteed to land on the tail end of the race. Also, by refusing to listen to PATAFA guidance, Tabal is sure to have destroyed her legs for the Olympics. She has run two hard marathons in the span of one month in order to qualify.In all practical consideration, her participation will not even be felt by her competitors.
Tabal’s participation in the Olympics was never about her winning it. She was to be groomed as the representation of the Filipino athlete. Talented, driven, and passionate about the sport. PATAFA knows that she will never win, but does she truly deserve to represent the sport?
The cost of her participation will be shouldered by taxpayers, and it is PATAFA’s choice to send her or not. Sadly, it now seems like asking Filipinos to chip in to fund a millennial who wants to prove an egotistical point. That an athlete can be undisciplined and disrespectful, so long as a qualifying time is met. People are celebrating, but what are they truly celebrating? It is PATAFA’s opinion that perhaps, with more maturity and humility, Mary Joy Tabal can represent the country for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Anticipation for the 2016 Ayala Philippine National Open Invitational Athletics Championships is reaching fever-pitch. Over 1,000 athletes have already signed up for the annual athletics meet organized by the PATAFA.
This year’s version of the National open is unique in many ways. First, this year’s championships year marks the forging of a long-term partnership between Ayala Corporation and the PATAFA, after long hours of comprehensive discussions. Hence, the 2016 edition is billed the Ayala Philippine National Open-Invitational Athletics Championships. In addition, this year’s National Open returns to the Philippine capital, the hub of athletics in the country. The three-day scorching, live, action-packed competition will be held on April 7, 8, and 9 in PhilSports (formerly ULTRA) in Pasig. It will be open to the public.
The competition will kick off at daybreak on April 7 then culminate on April 9 by 5:00pm. On each day, competitions will start at 6 AM and then have a 6-hour mid-day break and resume at 4 P.M. to end at 8 P.M. The six-hour break is to give the competitors and technical officials a respite from the extreme summer heat and to follow international conventional practice
The 2016 Open is anticipated to be a tightly contested championships as the July 11 deadline for the submission of Olympic qualifiers draws near. The championships will showcase the athletic prowess of current members of the national athletics team pitted against the best of the best across the archipelago. This year, expected to provide tough competition are over 1,000 up-and-coming and powerhouse track and field athletes all over the Philippines plus invited young and top-notch athletes from neighboring Asian countries such as South Korea, Malaysia (expected to field teams from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah), Singapore, Hong Kong, Guam, Brunei and Mongolia. The Philippines will, on the other hand, field entries from the national team, the national training pool and collegiate leagues like the UAAP, NCAA, SCUAA.
Interest will also be focused on Fil-American standouts from the national team and a new batch of crack Fil-heritage athletes, who have served notice of their desire to participate in the three-day event as part of their plan to join the national team. As members of the national team they will have a shot at competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics and succeeding competitions like the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia, the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines and the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Leading the Fil-Am charge are Rio Olympics qualifier Eric Cray who will see action in the 100m and 400m Hurdles and currently ranks 38th in the world; Caleb Stuart, the 2015 Southeast Asian Games Hammer Throw record holder; and, Donovant Arriola, bronze medalist in Long Jump in the Singapore SEA Games. A returnee to the Open is Brandon Thomas who has joined Eric Cray as the latter’s training partner in Texas. Thomas, who competed in the 2015 National Open in Sta Cruz, Laguna, can run a time good enough to qualify for the 7th Asian Indoor Championship in Doha, Qatar, and hopefully, the World indoors (in Eugene, Oregon). Thomas will compete in the 100 and 200 meter runs.
Hopes are high that a good number of Philippine athletes, with its formidable squad of young and experienced home grown and overseas-trained athletes, will spring surprises in delivering record setting performances in this year’s Open.
A host of crack tracksters from across Asia and the Pacific are expected to mount stiff opposition to the Philippine athletes. Worth anticipating are the performances of Lee Gyu Hyeong and Kim So Yeon from South Korea, and Shanti Pereira of Singapore for the sprints, and Muhd Mat Hasan, Rayzam Wan Sofian, and Raja Azhar of Malaysia in the hurdles event.
Who to watch out for in the 2016 APNOIAC
Aside from Cray and Stuart, local athletics stalwarts may spring some sizzling athletics performances in the upcoming championships. Marestella Torres, at 35, and probably maybe one of the oldest contenders in the competition, is still expected to perform creditably. Torres holds both the RP and SEA Games records in Long Jump at 6.71m. She will compete in the same event on April 7 in pursuit of a Rio Olympics slot. This may also be her swansong to top-level athletics.
At the other end of the age spectrum is Ernest John (EJ) Obiena, one of the youngest members of Team Pilipinas Athletics. EJ, at 20 years old, now holds the distinction of setting the year’s best in Southeast Asia for Pole Vault with a record of 5.60m, 10cm short of the 5.70m Olympic qualifying mark. EJ recently barged into the top 100 pole vaulters in global tanking. He is expected to meet strong opposition from his Thai nemesis in the 2015 SEA Games. Also worth anticipating is Christopher Ulboc, reprising his 3000m Steeplechase SEA Games winning run. In a dramatic fashion, Ulboc pulled off a last minute finishing kick in his bread-and-butter event to cop the fifth gold medal for the Philippines in the Singapore SEA Games last year. Ulboc competes in the 3000m Steeplechase on April 8.
The 2016 Ayala Philippine National Open-Invitational Athletics Championships is title-sponsored by the Ayala Corporation, co-presented by Milo Nutri-up and the PATAFA supported in part by the Philippine Sports Commission and the IAAF with major sponsors Foton Philippines, PCSO, Summit Natural Drinking Water, Appeton, Asics Watch, L TimeStudio, and media partners Business Mirror, Business Mirror Health & Fitness Magazine, and the official radio station Mellow 94.7.