FIRST Filipino marathon Olympian Mary Joy Tabal is giving up her Tokyo Olympic dream but she is not retiring yet even after she weds her fiancé, Lieutenant Junior Grade Hector Dan Jimenez, in January 2022.
Cebu City-based Tabal, in a recent Facebook chat interview with this writer, said, "I already gave up Tokyo Olympics Ma’am. The qualifying races that I’ve registered in are still postponed and it will all be set in the last quarter of this year, humana pud Olympics (The Tokyo Olympics will be over when the qualifying races will push through)."
But she is not retiring just yet.
She has been instead preparing for the 2021 Tokyo Marathon on October 17, one among the world's premier marathons, and the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games slated November 21 to December 2 in Hanoi, Vietnam where she hopes to reclaim her title after losing the gold medal to compatriot Christine Hallasgo of Bukidnon in the 2019 SEA Games marathon held at the New Clark City in Tarlac.
The 31-year-old Tabal said she has been in restricted training in Cebu. She settles with running on the treadmill and doing conditioning exercises at home or within the neighborhood.
"Agwanta lang sa jud kog treadmill Mam kay lisura magdagan na naka mask oi, unhealthy samot sa lungs kung ma-over napud (I'll just have to make do with a treadmill as it's more difficult to run with a face mask, it's unhealthier for the lungs). It's still not safe to run outdoor without wearing face masks, Maam, coz I prefer running a without a face mask. It will be harder especially long distance running akong sports (since I'm running long distance)," she said, adding that when it is safer to travel, she will go to Japan and train there months before the SEA Games. Tabal's sister is based in Japan so it would be easier for her stay there and focus on her training.
The veteran runner also said that her future husband has been and always will be supportive of her career. She will continue to compete as long as she can.
She continued, "If there will be better opportunities, then I will grab it. We’ve planned it already ni Dan na maski pa we get married, for as long as kaya padaw nako mag compete (even when we get married, as long as I can still compete), then he’ll gonna support me 101 percent."
The couple will tie the knot before the Sinulog Festival in Cebu in January 2022. They got engaged on January 14, 2021.