Tabal snags 1st gold | Inquirer Sports

Tabal snags 1st gold

/ 05:12 AM August 20, 2017

GOLD- Maryjoy Tabal after winning the 1st gold medal for the Philippines when she ruled the women’s marathon at the 2017 Seagames in Putrajaya, Malaysia.
INQUIRER/ MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

KUALA LUMPUR—One down, 49 to go.

Mary Joy Tabal ended Team Philippines’ five-day gold drought in the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) on Sunday with a triumph to remember in women’s marathon, a victory which officials hope would spark a veritable gold rush to attain a target that, though modest, many feel is a long shot.

Clocking two hours, 48 minutes and 26 seconds on a cool day, the 28-year-old Tabal blew away a badly-outclassed field and checked in almost seven minutes ahead of Vietnam’s Hoang Thi Thanh at Putrajaya Government Complex here.

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It was also the ending Tabal had hoped for following a love-hate relationship with her national sports association, which threatened to not even take her to these Games following non-compliance with procedures set by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.

“I went through a lot of hardships. In training, in everything. But I know in my heart that I really had to deliver,” a teary-eyed Tabal, draped with the Philippine flag, said in Filipino. “I can’t disappoint my country.

With its first gold going with a silver and two bronze medals won in the first five days, the lean Philippine delegation now has the inspiration to go for at least 49 more as Gilas Pilipinas sees action in men’s basketball against bitter rival Thailand on Sunday with the Rugby7 men’s team also favored to win one.

“To my fellow athletes, if we really do our best, we can do it,” added Tabal, who chopped a huge chunk off her time of 3:02:27 in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last year to win the gold.

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“I felt that God was gifting me with this victory and all I needed to do was take it,” said Tabal, even as men’s bet Jeson Agravante failed to finish his race, reportedly due to cramps.

Tabal, who trained for three months in Italy, hugged athletics chief Philip Ella Juico and Philippine Sports Commissioner Ramon Fernandez at the finish line.

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“Thank you to all people who believed in me and for all your support,” said Tabal who has had a strained relationship with the national athletics body for the past two years.

Team Philippines was good for just 29 gold medals in 2015 and had set a 50-gold target before coming over here.

Daniel Parantac anchors the wushu team while four Filipino pugs get it going with bright hopes of going all the way.

The 26-year-old Parantac, champion in forms events taijijian and taijiquan, has won gold medals during the 2015 Singapore and 2013 Myanmar editions.

Joining him in the gold-medal hunt are Thorton Quiney, Kimberly Macuha and Norlence Ardee Catolico.

Wushu is hoping to again be a gold mine in the Games although in the last edition in Singapore, it could only produce one gold and four silvers.

Eumir Felix Marcial, Mario Fernandez and Ian Clark Bautista, champions of their respective divisions two years ago in Singapore, and Olympian Charly Suarez will lead the crew tasked to at least duplicate a five-gold haul in 2015 as they see action in preliminary bouts at MITEC Hall 8.

“We were beginning to worry when we will win gold,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chair Butch Ramirez in Manila. He had already informed President Duterte of Tabal’s feat.

“I hope it will result in more gold medals.”

The Filipinos, overall champions in the 2005 edition staged back home, will also try to pick up championships in tenpin bowling, archery (recurve), equestrian, gymnastics and table tennis.

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As of 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, the host country was on top of the medal tally with a 7-4-5 gold-silver-bronze haul, followed by Singapore’s 3-3-3.

TAGS: 29th Southeast Asian Games, Marathon, Mary Joy Tabal, SEA Games

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