MARY Joy Tabal’s chance of making it to the Olympics has just improved after the International Association of Athletics Federations IAAF reduced the qualifying time from 2:42 to 2:45 in the women’s division.

“I was very happy when I learned about it, but at the same time I was nervous thinking what if I would not get the time. But as of now, we remain positive and focused on the training,” Tabal told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

The 26-year-old Southeast Asian (Sea) Games silver medalist will gun for that time when in the 2016 Boston Marathon, the longest-running annual running event in the world.

“I hope I can get the time and I think God has helped me in making my dreams possible. I believe that this is a sign and hint from God to keep pushing in my training for my dream. It is like a message to me that there is no turning back because the event is getting close,” she said.

The former Southwestern University sprinter said that when she learned about the change, it was like a late Christmas gift but it would be sweeter if she makes the qualifying time this April.

Tabal, a three-time Milo Marathon queen, has a personal best of 2:48 set during the 2013 National Milo Marathon. The time is also the event’s best marathon time for the women’s division in their 39-year history.

Tabal of Motor-Ace Philippines must be three minutes faster than her best time to snag a Rio Olympics ticket.

“There is a chance to qualify but I must stay focused and not be complacent. A lot of things can happen during the training and preparation, much more on race day. I just have to be focused, relaxed and stay motivated with my goal,” Tabal said.

She said that she hopes to avoid any injuries and problems during her training program.

Since she is not part of the PH team anymore, Tabal has been getting support from the private sector for his training.

Tabal’s long-time coach John Philip Dueñas said they have started with the training program for Boston Marathon, and part of that is the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon this Sunday.

Tabal will join the women’s 21K and will be up against the best runners in the region. One of her aims is to try and improve her personal best in the half-marathon, which is 1:19:32, inked during the Great Eastern Women’s Run in Singapore It will be a bonus if she eclipses the 1:18:46 record of Mercedita Manipol.