Answered prayer | Inquirer Sports

Answered prayer

Hallasgo carves out wonderful surprise, bucks heat and cramps for marathon gold
/ 04:45 AM December 07, 2019
Answered prayer

Christine Hallasgo’s sacrifices pay off after shock marathon victory. –MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

NEW CLARK CITY—With cramps creeping on her legs and a prayer passing through her lips, Christine Hallasgo went from merely shadowing a more illustrious teammate to finding her place under a scourging, strength-sapping sun.

Marathon has a new queen and all she wants is to be with her little princess soon.

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“I was praying to God that He gives my body enough strength because I don’t want these hardships and sacrifices go to waste,” Hallasgo told the Inquirer in Filipino after reaching the finish ahead of everybody else in the women’s field on Friday to win a Southeast Asian Games gold medal.

Melting under the heat was the least of the sacrifices she had to go through.

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“I left my daughter, I endured being away from her. This is the first time I was away from her,” said the 27-year-old SEA Games rookie, her voice cracking.

Hallasgo left husband Wilmer and 3-year-old daughter, Tricia Mae, back home in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, to prepare for the Games.

She was training to flesh out a role as second fiddle to reigning champion Mary Joy Tabal of Cebu City, but things panned out differently in the homestretch.

Hallasgo said she and Tabal found themselves trailing Vietnamese Pham Hing Le Ti and Linda Janthachit of Thailand in the last of the five loops around the course.

Her coach, SEA Games legend and Olympian Eduardo Buenavista, told her to just keep an eye on the leader and then use her speed to overtake.

“When I got past the Aquatics Center (less than a kilometer away) I made the move,” said Hallasgo, who turned in a time of two hours, 56 minutes and 56 seconds.

Tabal, who trained in Japan for her SEA Games defense, forced her way to a silver, clocking 2:58.49 before being stretchered out to the medical tent after collapsing at the finish. Pham Hong Le Thi of Thailand, the 2017 silver medalist, wound up third (3:02:52).

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The crowd that woke up early to watch marathon competitions live was stunned when it was Hallasgo, not Olympian and five-time national champion Tabal, who entered the NCC track and field stadium first.

Hallasgo was just as shocked.

“I was just a contender here, I wasn’t expecting anything because this is my first time,” said Hallasgo in Filipino. “I just wanted to contribute a medal for the Philippines.”

“I just focused and prayed that my body would allow me to catch up with the lead pack,” she added.

Agus Prayogo of Indonesia ruled the men’s competition. Sanchai Namkhet of Thailand and Mohamad Muhaiza of Malaysia placed second and third, respectively. Filipinos Jerald Zabala and Anthony Nerza wound up fifth and sixth, respectively.

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TAGS: Christine Hallasgo, Marathon, SEA Games 2019, Sports
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