Why former SEA games gold medal cyclist Marella Salamat chose school over Asiad

August 22, 2018 - 9:02 AM
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Marella Salamat was sought by the Philippine Olympic Committee to take part in the Asiad. (Photo from Marella Santos' official Facebook page)

Former SEA Games cycling gold medalist Marella Salamat has already announced that she is not joining the 18th Asian Games

Media outfits initially reported over the weekend that it was Salamat’s school, the University of the East, that prevented her from joining the competition.

Salamat explained that she decided not to participate in the ongoing Asiad to focus on completing her dentistry degree at UE.

Salamat, in an interview with ESPN5, revealed that she was no longer allowed to go on a leave of absence by her school as she had already done so in the past.

She also related that when the Philippine Olympic Committee sent a letter to her school asking for permission on her behalf to join the sports meet, UE responded that she would have to repeat the dentistry curriculum if she joined the Asiad.

“When I sent the Philippine Sports Commission’s letter to UE, they said it was OK for me to leave but if I do decide again to come back to UE Dentistry, I’d go back to my first year,” said Salamat in the interview.

The POC had appealed the case to UE at least three times but was repeatedly denied, reported ESPN 5.

POC president Ricky Vargas criticized UE’s decision not to allow Salamat to go on leave of absence, calling the decision “deplorable.”

UE’s response

Ester Garcia, president of UE, responded to Vargas in a letter saying it was Salamat who did not file for a leave of absence as it was her decision to abstain from participating in the Asiad.

The university also denied that Salamat would have had to repeat the dentistry program, saying Salamat made the statement without proper consultation from the office of the dean of the College of Dentistry.

Salamat has yet to issue any further statement as of this writing.

Amid the controversy, Filipinos hopeful for Team Philippines to bag more medals at the Asiad are lamenting what could have been had Salamat participated.

Salamat won gold in the women’s cycling individual time trial event at the 2015 Southeast Asia Games in Singapore and won bronze in the women’s road race event of the 2016 World University Cycling Championship.

She won three gold medals in the 9th Philippine National Games cycling competition in May 2018.