Tabal delivers first gold medal for PH, rules women’s marathon
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia Rising up through emotional ups and down, Mary Joy Tabal just crowned herself the queen of the 29th Southeast Asian Games marathon.
The 28-year-old Tabal broke down in tears right after crossing the finish line, literally beating the Vietnam contestant by a mile, to deliver that gold medal she hoped would open the flood gates for Team Philippines.
“I went through a lot of hardships. In training. In everything. But the I know in my heart that I really have to deliver,” said Tabal in Filipino. “I can’t let disappoint my country.
“To my fellow athletes, if we really do our best, we can do it,” added Tabal who clocked two hours, 48 minutes and 26 seconds, almost seven minutes clear of silver winner Hoang Thi Thanh.
Tabal said she was feeling cramps on her tibialis or shin muscle during the first loop around the Putrajaya government complex that lined with gleaming office skyscrapers.
“That’s why on the first loop I tried to warm up, then in the second loop I saw the other runners being left behind,” added the Rio Olympian and silver medals in the 2015 SEAG.
The race was held on well paved city streets with four and half loops on the main street on a cloudy day and weather cooled down by the previous night’s heavy downpour.
“I felt that God was gifting me with this victory and all I needed to do was take it,” said Tabal.
Her compatriot in the men’s side, Jeson Agravante didn’t finish the race.
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Tabal, who trained for three months in Italy, hugged Athletics chief Philip Ella Juico and Philippine Sports Commissioner Ramon Fernandez right after draping herself with the Philippine flag at the finish line.
“Thank you to all people who believed in me and for all your support,” said Tabal who has had strained relationship with the national athletics body for the past two years.
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