Air Force Joy

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


MARY Joy Tabal will be joining the Philippine Air Force (PAF) team’s mix of elite athletes on quest for gold medals in the Philippine National Games (PNG) on May 17-23 at the Ultra Philsports Complex.

Tabal, who is currently the fastest female marathoner in the country, looks to defend her gold medal in the short distance 5K run; she’s also set to debut in the 10K event.

“As early as December, we were looking for a team. The PAF team has timely offered support and asked me to join them. They even recruited me to take an exam so I would be a uniformed woman of the PAF. I did not push through with it. I am not ready for it yet,” Tabal said.

She will be joining the likes of former Milo marathon queen Mary Grace de los Santos, and Cristabel Martes in the PAF team.

“The group will join in different events. For athletics, we have sprinters, jumpers, middle distance and long distance runners,” Tabal said.

The Cebuana made her country proud after finishing 17th overall in the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris at the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Just one week after the marathon, she started a transition activity to build up her strength. She went back to running routine just this week.

“I started to run again this week. My trainer, John Phillip Dueñas, has been supporting me on short distance drills to boost my speed a bit,” said Tabal.

For her PNG stint, Tabal anticipates to face former Milo Marathon record-holder Jho-an Banayag in the 5K and 10K events, and uses this a motivation to push harder in here training as she has been focusing in marathon traiing for a while.

Meanwhile, PNG remains the recruitment haven for national teams, where they search for possible athletes, who will be sent to the Southeast Asian Games. Tabal said in order to qualify in athletics, the athlete should match the time of Sea Games bronze medalist. Last year, she clocked 18:03 in the 5K, more than a minute over the qualifying time for the national team.

Though she is not aiming to top the record, she guarantees to give her best to possibly get the chance to be part of the national team. “It is my ultimate dream to join the Sea Games and it is very hard. I hope this will be a good tournament for me,” said Tabal.

As part of PNG’s preparation, Tabal will join a 15K run on May 4 in Mandaue City. (RSC)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 24, 2014.

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