Bukidnon runner outshines Tabal

FINISH. Bukidnon’s Christine Organiza Hallasgo and Cebu City’s Mary Joy Tabal finish first and second, respectively, to clinch the gold and silver medals for the Philippines in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games women’s marathon at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac Friday, December 6. (Marianne L. Saberon-Abalayan)

CAPAS, Tarlac -- Christine Organiza Hallasgo, a 27-year-old mother from Malaybalay, Bukidnon, who has not experienced any international exposure, outshone defending champion and Rio Olympian Mary Joy Tabal of Cebu City enroute to bagging the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games women’s marathon gold medal here December 6 at the New Clark City.

Hallasgo, who was trailing third in the first 33 kilometers, pumped up speed in the last 400 meters to check in first with a total of two hours, 56 minutes and 56 seconds. Early leader Odekta Elvina Naibaho of Indonesia collapsed 400 meters before approaching the finish line. Thus, giving Hallasgo an advantage for the title.

Tabal, 30, who was at fourth during the last lap, fought her way back to annex the silver after she timed 2:58:49. Vietnam’s Hong Le Thi Pham registered 3:02:52 to take the bronze.

“Talagang hindi ko po expected na manalo. Syempre, nag-focus ako pangatlo nalang ako. Tiningnan ko lang sino nauna sa akin, nag-focus lang ako na baka maabutan ko,” Hallasgo, who topped the women’s 21K of the National Milo Marathon Manila leg on July 28, said in a media interview.

She also thought of contributing a gold for the country. “Ayaw kong mahuli ang athletics kais kami ang unang event,” Hallasgo added.

She only started training with the national team July this year and she had to endure homesickness and longing for her three-year-old daughter whom she left in Malaybalay.

“Salamat sa mga nagpray sa akin at nagsuporta sa akin. Marami akong sacrifices. Nung training, masakit sa akin na iwan ko anak ko for the first time. Tiniis ko lang, pinaghirapan ko ito. Habang tumatakbo, panalangin ko lang na kondisyon ang katawan ko, at magbunga lahat ng sakripisyo ko sa training,” said the Davao International Marathon 2018 women’s 21K champion.

Her coach Eduardo Buenavista, a four-time SEA Games gold medalist, said since he only started coaching this year, he was eyeing Hallasgo to join the national team provided that she win the National Milo Marathon Manila leg.

“Sa awa ng Diyos, nanalo sya. Nakikinig sya sa akin sa training,” the decorated trackster from South Cotabato said.

Tabal, who was attended to by a medical team after she fainted after reaching the finish line, was uncertain if she finished the race as she asked around those who accompanied her at the emergency station how her run went.

“Naubusan talaga ako ng hangin. I didn’t know na nauna si Christine at nagstop yung isang Indonesia. I’m so happy nag-first si Christine, I’m so proud of her. We win as one, at least nag first and second kami,” Tabal told media after the awarding rites.

Meanwhile, the Philippines was shut out in men’s marathon as Indonesia’s Agus Prayogo (2:26:45) snatched the gold followed by Thailand’s Sanchai Namkhet (2:27:18) and Muhaizar Mohamad (2:33:08).

Filipinos Jerald Zabala and ex-Brokenshire College standout Anthony Nerza placed fifth and sixth, respectively.


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