Olympic marathon a big learning experience for PH bet | Inquirer Sports

Olympic marathon a big learning experience for PH bet

A MEMBER of the medical staff meets an exhausted Mary Joy Tabal at the finish line.  The first Filipino marathon entry wound up 124th out of 133 finishers.  Twenty three others failed to complete the race.  Ted S. Melendres

A MEMBER of the medical staff meets an exhausted Mary Joy Tabal at the finish line. The first Filipino marathon entry wound up 124th out of 133 finishers. Twenty three others failed to complete the race. Ted S. Melendres

RIO DE JANEIRO—Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal validated one personal battlecry at the Rio Olympics on Monday: She never quits a race.

Reduced to tears and utter exhaustion as she negotiated the second half of the women’s 42.195-kilometer race in the sweltering heat, Tabal courageously pushed herself across the dreaded “runner’s wall” and avoided the fate of 23 other Olympic runners who failed to finish.

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“I have never discontinued a race in my life because of pain or exhaustion, and not now because this is the Olympics,” said the 27-year-old daughter of a retired policeman from Guba, Cebu City.

“Sinabi ko nga kay coach Philip (Dueñas), ang sakit na talaga, ang hirap na. Pero naisip ko ang mga nagdarasal para makatapos ako (I was telling coach Philip that the pain was already unbearable, but I was thinking about the people who were praying for me).”

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She said it came to a point when she couldn’t feel her legs and body anymore, prompting a worried Dueñas to run up next to her to ask if she wanted to quit right then and there.

Dueñas, who wore the Olympic athlete’s identification card of eliminated lightweight boxer Charly Suarez because he had no Philippine team accreditation, said the weather suddenly turned very hot 30 minutes into the race.

And by the time she reached the halfway mark, she was already desperate for air and more liquid, he said.

“I thought that my body and legs had stopped moving,” said Tabal, a management accounting graduate with a Master’s degree at Southwestern University. “The numbness was so severe that I thought I would trip over because only my mind seemed to be functioning.

“I didn’t want to look at the runners who fell on the road and just stopped running for fear I might join them. I told myself that I’d finish the race even if I had to walk. I’m glad I didn’t have to.”

The experience of racing against all the world’s finest marathoners in the Olympics makes her realize that she still has a lot to learn in her sport.

“I need to learn how to adjust to everything like the weather, the other competitors, all the aspects of preparation,” said Tabal. “This is an experience that will help me improve as an athlete.”

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TAGS: Marathon, Mary Joy Tabal, Olympics, PH Rio Olympics, Rio Olympics
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