MANILA -- Mary Joy Tabal, the Philippine’s first gold medalist in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, went straight from the airport to the office of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William "Butch" Ramirez yesterday to pay him a courtesy call.
Tabal told Ramirez, "Daghang salamat (Thank you very much), thank you po for believing in me."
The road to her SEA Gams feat was filled with heartaches and challenges as she was almost denied a spot to participate in the much-anticipated biennial event.
“I faced a lot of challenges, but I am here. Thanks to all those who stayed by my side and helped me reach for my goals, dumami ang tatay ko,” an emotional Tabal said.
A few weeks before SEA Games, she was dropped by the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa) from their Malaysia-bound team due to differences in training preferences. She flashed her medal to the media, saying, “This gold gave me confidence, yes, but I am open to learning more. I still have a lot to learn.”
Ramirez thanked Tabal in return for her efforts and congratulated her on her achievement. “I chose to not say a lot but I hope you felt how your PSC family believed in you.”
The PSC chief also pledged the agency’s support to Tabal who, according to her coach John Philip Duenas, shall seek longer and more intensive training with Olympic legend Akiro Ozami and top Italian coach Giusseppe Giambrone in Italy.
“Target naming ang 2020 Olympics. We need certain competitions to qualify,” he said.
Ramirez assured them of the PSC support. “We shall support Joy, we shall support athletes who have a marked possibility to win in the Olympics. This is not only a promise, this is a commitment.”
Asked for her message to her co-athletes and the Filipino people, Tabal said “Don’t just dream, make it happen.”
She cited her height of 4'11", her humble beginnings in Barangay Guba, Cebu and the challenges she faced as an athlete to highlight her point that "perseverance and dedication will help you reach your dreams. You just have to put your heart into it." (PR)