Mary Joy Tabal has SEA Games gold on her mind
CEBU CITY, Philippines - Nothing but the gold.
This is the goal of the first Filipino female Olympic marathoner Mary Joy Tabal who had flown along with the rest of the Philippine Athletics team to Malaysia Wednesday, August 16 for the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which will have its formal opening ceremonies this Saturday, August 19 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in KL Sports City.
“Feelings that's hard to express in words. I'm excited, nervous, thankful, humbled and hopeful. I will wear the flag with pride. I will compete with a heart and will fight like a warrior,” said Tabal who added that the quest for gold is not the goal of hers alone but of the whole country as well.
Tabal had spent the early part of the year and the whole summer training for the biennial meet in Tuscany, Italy and a side camp in Switzerland.
“Yes! Goal for this training is the SEA Games. I had a good training in Italy, it was indeed hard but rewarding, it went well,” said Tabal.
“Actually naa ni sya continuity ang training program, naa na plan for three years up to Tokyo 2020 (Olympics) but have to discuss it sa team after SEA Games coz it's quite an expensive program. That's why I really have to perform well this coming Saturday puhon.”
(Yes! Goal for this training is the SEA Games. I had a good training in Italy, it was indeed hard but rewarding, it went well. Actually, the training program has a continuity, it has a three-year plan up to Tokyo 2020 [Olympics] but I have to discuss it with the team after SEA Games coz it's quite an expensive program. That's why I really have to perform well this coming Saturday.)
This is the second time that Tabal will be competing in the SEA Games. Her first was in 2015 in Singapore wherein she finished with a silver.
The diminutive Cebuana will be competing early in the morning of Saturday, August 19, hours before the formal opening ceremonies.
“I felt pressured but I know it's part of us already for representing the country but I don't deal with it that much. I will take this as another challenge for me and for our country. I did not train this hard for nothing so I really have to do and give my best,” explained Tabal.
According to Tabal she wants to post a good time but that it will be a second priority.
“[Second priority] na ang time; I also want to have a good time but in a competition like this, the SEA Games, ranking and medals are more important, because it will depend on how the pacing will go,” said Tabal.
Her long time coach, John Philip Dueñas, said that Tabal is ready for the SEA Games.
"So far, Joy’s condition is good. She’s in shape and on Thursday or Friday, we will check her interval pace for the target race pacing," Dueñas said.
According to Dueñas, the heat in Italy which reached to as high as 45-degrees, has helped in preparing Tabal for the heat she is expected to encounter in Malaysia.
“There’s a heatwave in Europe. It’s so hot that they even call it the Lucifer,” said Dueñas adding that it helped Tabal as she no longer needs to adjust to the weather in Southeast Asia.
“After namu sa St. Moritz, pagbalik namu sa Tuscany kay init na, from 38-41 degrees,” said Tabal.
(After St. Moritz [Switzerland], when we returned to Tuscany, it was very hot already from 38-41 degrees.)
Aside from Dueñas, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) has assigned Rene Herrera as her official national coach.
And, her training in Italy was set by Dueñas, Akio Usami and Giuseppe Giambrone, who headed the Tuscany training camp.
Motor Ace Philippines Inc president Jonel Borromeo is excited about Tabal's SEA Games' bid for a gold medal and expresses his confidence in their star athlete.
"We believe Joy is in the best of shape. She has remained focused in her training program. We believe she will take the gold home," said Borromeo, whose company bankrolled for Tabal's training overseas.
“I am always grateful for everything. I will never be here right now without the people who believed in me, no words can express how grateful I am now for having these opportunities. It's a great feeling to be bringing our Country's name,” said Tabal. – Rappler.com