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Handful of athletes qualify for Rio Olympics with Ottawa Marathon performances

Handful of athletes qualify for Rio Olympics with Ottawa Marathon performances

Posted by PanamericanWorld on May 30, 2016

With 42 kilometres behind her and only 195 metres remaining, Mary Joy Tabal began to cry.

“Oh my gosh! I’m going to make it. I’m going to make it,” she told herself.

The 26-year-old from Cebu, Philippines, wore a smile as wide as the course was long after confirming that her time of two hours 43 minutes 31 seconds for Sunday’s Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon had made her the first Philippine woman ever to qualify for the Olympics in that event.

“For the past how many years, people tried to be in the Olympics and nobody makes it, so it’s me now,” Tabal said in an interview after earning her way to the Rio de Janeiro Games. “I think. I don’t know … I’m so happy. I just have to celebrate.”

Tabal was among a handful of athletes who successfully used their performances in Sunday’s race to qualify as national Olympic representatives in the Olympic marathons scheduled for Aug. 14 (women) and 21 (men).

Also on that list were Latvia’s Ariana Hilborn (2:40:32) and Israel’s Maor Tiyouri (2:42:22), who placed sixth and seventh in the women’s division, just ahead of Tabal. As well, Makorobondo Salukombo made the grade based not on his time (2:22:50), but rather on his ninth-place finish, which met Congo’s alternate requirement of a top-10 result in an International Association of Athletics Federations Gold Label event.

Mohamed Hrezi, a dual citizen of the United States and Libya, also met a time standard by placing seventh in 2:18:40, but the U.S. squad was selected long ago — Hrezi placed 62nd in the Olympic trials race in February — and it remained unclear Sunday afternoon whether he would be able to obtain approval to compete for Libya.

Tabal had attempted to qualify for the Olympics in the Boston Marathon, but her time of 2:49:01 for that event fell slightly more than four minutes short. An acquaintance living in Canada’s capital then suggested she take another shot at qualifying here, so, despite having raced another marathon in April, she entered the Ottawa race two weeks ago.

“My target was to enjoy the race and have fun. If I make it, then that would be my bonus,” she said.

Tiyouri’s backstory was also notable, given her running background. A University of San Francisco graduate now living in Boulder, Colo., she had been a 5,000- and 10,000-metre running and Ottawa’s marathon was her first ever.

Her father, Gideon, ran about 15 kilometres to watch Maor at various points on the course. “I’m excited with the result of the race of Maor, and I’m very happy,” he said.

Sunday’s races did not turn out as well for the athletes who had hoped to meet the more restrictive Canadian qualifying standards for Rio: 2:12:50 for men and 2:29:50 for women.

Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge, Ont., finished eighth overall among men, but managed a time of just 2:21:23 in warm, humid conditions. Tarah Korir of St. Clement, Ont., claimed fifth among women in 2:35:46, while Leslie Sexton of London, Ont., did not finish.

“I was trying to go for the standard. By 11 kilometres, it was still within reach, but then it slipped away, so I was just trying to finish it,” said Kangogo, whose assigned pacesetter had dropped out after 11 kilometres.

“I was just trying to run smart and trying to finish instead of not finishing it.”

Sunday represented the final day for Canadian runners to try to meet the national Olympic marathon standards, although the runners heading to Rio won’t officially be named to the squad until early July.

None of the four Canadians who have qualified for the Olympic marathon — Lanni Marchant of London, Ont., Krista DuChene of Brantford, Ont., Reid Coolsaet of Hamilton and Eric Gillis of Guelph, Ont. — entered Sunday’s race, although Marchant and Coolsaet did win Athletics Canada road racing championships in the Ottawa 10K on Saturday evening.

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