Tabal dominates SEA Games marathon to earn Philippines' 1st gold

MASOC/KL2017 photo
By Ariel Clarito

MANILA --The prodigal daughter of Philippine athletics is coming home with the gold.

2016 Rio Olympian Mary Joy Tabal overcame what she admitted was a nervous start to pick up the pace in the third of the five loop 42 kilometer course at the Palace of Justice to cruise to a comfortable lead over her closest pursuers, in the process bagging the first gold medal for the Philippines on the formal opening day of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Despite the initial jitters on the opening block, Tabal raced like the wind from start to finish to clock a time of 2:48:26, a good seven minutes ahead of second placer Hoang Thi Thanh of Vietnam, who finished at 2:55.43. Thailand’s Natthaya Thanaronnawat placed third with a time of 2:58:17 in the eight-woman field.

It was a sweet victory and vindication for Tabal who was a last minute addition to the Philippine athletic delegation to the SEA Games.

Earlier this year, Tabal was dropped from the national pool for her refusal to train with the national team which held camp in Manila and Baguio.

She was reinstated to the national team this June by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), just in time for the SEA Games.

Her gold medal triumph was also payback for Tabal who only finished with a silver in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games where she lost to Thailand’s Thanaronnawat.

Tabal, who pitched camp in Tuscany, Italy and in Switzerland for her preparation for the SEA Games, has been showing fine form in her preparation for the SEA Games.

She recently won the 21-kilometer open class of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon with a time of 1:16:27, breaking the Philippine record 1:18:45 set in 2008 by Mercedita Fetalvero.

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