THE months of training all boil down to one race when Cebuana marathoner Mary Joy Tabal competes in the women’s marathon event in the 29th Southeast Asian (Sea) Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia today.
“As of this moment, I’m nervous, excited and I’m hopeful,” Tabal told SunStar Cebu yesterday.
The 28-year-old Olympian has put all her dedication in the Sea Games bid. She trained abroad with the Tuscany Training Camp in Italy for three months to improve her chances in the biennial meet.
All of Tabal’s preparation will get tested when she faces the other top-tier marathoners in Southeast Asia in the women’s 42-kilometer race, which blasts off at 6:15 a.m.
Tabal of Motor-Ace Kawasaki Racing Team arrived in Malaysia last Wednesday and is now all set for the race, aiming to win a gold medal for the country.
Tabal is one of the country’s early medal prospects as her event starts hours before the official opening ceremony. The Philippines already won silver in sepak takraw and bronze in archery last Wednesday.
“We have visited the start and finish area, but we haven’t checked the entire course. We’re going to check it Friday morning by car because we are now resting for the race,” said Tabal, who won a silver medal in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.
The marathoners will run four loops to complete the 42K distance.
“Based on the race route photo, the route is flat, there’s a bridge that has a small hill,” she said. “I’m fine with looping, what’s important is we have to check it so we can familiarize ourselves with the road. There’s a race route familiarization also tomorrow (Friday) as scheduled by the organizers.”
Tabal said that to achieve the dream to win a gold medal, they’re going to watch every tiny detail that can be a factor in the outcome of the race. She has to be ready when facing challenges during the race like dehydration, cramps and stomach upsets.
“I didn’t train this hard for nothing so I really have to do my best,” she said.
The native of Barangay Guba, Cebu said that her priority is winning the gold medal and getting a good time is just second to that. She said that it will all depend on the race pace.
Aside from training in Italy, Tabal and the athletes of Tuscany Camp also had a high-altitude training for three weeks in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Tabal earlier said that her training abroad made her a better athlete.
Tabal’s last road race was in March when she won the women’s half-marathon title of the 2017 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in Canada in 1 hour, 16 minutes and 27 seconds, a PHL record in the women’s 21K distance.
“We believe Joy (Tabal) is in the best shape. She has remained focused on her training program. We believe she will bring the gold home,” said Borromeo, president of Motor Ace Philippines Inc., who bankrolled Tabal’s training overseas.
Tabal’s best time in marathon is 2:43:31 set last May 2016 in the Ottawa Marathon, where she qualified for the Olympics.
Tabal clocked 3:04:39 in the 2015 Sea Games and finished 46 seconds behind gold medalist Natthaya Thanaronnawat of Thailand. (RSC)
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 19, 2017.
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