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30th SEA Games

Who dethroned Cebu’s Mary Joy Tabal?

Get to know the runner from Malaybalay who stunned the Cebuana champ for the gold in women’s marathon

By: Mars G. Alison - CDN Digital | December 06,2019 - 11:20 AM

Malaybalay, Bukidnon’s Christine Hallasgo (left) and Cebu’s Mary Joy Tabal (right) show off their medals in women’s marathon. Hallasgo won the gold while Tabal took the silver for a 1-2 finish for the Philippines. CDN Digital photo | Mars G. Alison

New Clark City—Another petite runner won the gold for the Philippines in women’s marathon in the 30th Southeast Asian Games. 

But it isn’t Cebu’s Mary Joy Tabal.

Christine Hallasgo, a 27-year-old runner from Malaybalay, Bukidnon, pulled off a major upset after dethroning Tabal on Friday morning, December 6, 2019, at the New Tarlac City Athletics Stadium here.

Hallasgo clocked two hours, 56 minutes and 56 seconds to defeat Tabal, who had to be carried out on a stretcher after reaching the finish line.

The six-time Milo National champion Tabal finished with a time of 2:58:49.

Tabal won the gold in the Malaysia SEA Games in 2017. She also won the silver in 2015.

“Wala akong inisip na matatalo ko si [Joy Tabal]. Inisip ko lang na maka medal para sa bansa,” Hallasgo said after the race.

(I really didn’t think of beating [Joy Tabal]. I only thought of making sure the country would win a medal.)

Watch her interview here:

WATCH: Christine Hallasgo, the gold medalist in women’s marathon of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, speaks about her victory over Cebu’s Mary Joy Tabal on Friday morning, December 6, 2019. | Mars G. Alison #CDNDigital #WeWinAsOne #SEAG2019xInquirer

Posted by CDN Digital on Thursday, December 5, 2019

Hallasgo was trained by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), Inc. and coached by Olympian  Eduardo Buenavista.

Buenavista said Hallasgo was discovered in the national open and also competes in Milo Marathon races.

“Sa umpisa pa lang, sinabi ko na sa kanya na timing lang. Kung makikita mong bumagal na ang kalaban mo, dyan ka na mag umpisa ma una,” Buenavista said.

(At the start, I told her to wait for the perfect timing. If she sees that the competition slows down, that’s when she makes her move.)

Here’s Buenavista’s full interview:

WATCH: Olympian Eduardo Buenavista, the coach of Southeast Asian Games women’s marathon gold medalist Christine Hallasgo talks about the stunning performance of his runner. Hallasgo dethroned Cebu’s Mary Joy Tabal on Friday, December 6, 2019. | Mars G. Alison #CDNDigital #WeWinAsOne #SEAG2019xInquirer

Posted by CDN Digital on Thursday, December 5, 2019

Hallasgo picked the perfect time to make her move.

“Pero ang ginawa ni Christine, sa likod pa rin siya hanggang sa last two kilometers. Tumtuok lang talaga siya sa kung sino ang leading. Pagdating ng last one kilometer, nakadikit na siya. Nung na overtakan na niya ang kalaban sa last 500 meters,  yung kalaban bumigay,” Buenavista added.

(What Christine did was to stay behind until the last two kilometers. She really focused on the leader. When she reached the final kilometer, she stayed close. When she overtook her rival in the last 500 meters, the competition wasn’t able to cope.)

Hallasgo trained in Tarlac for most part of her preparation for the biennial meet, but she said she still had a tough time in the race.

“Naging advantage po siya pero nahirapan talaga kami sa init,” she said.

The 1-2 finish of Hallasgo and Tabal kicked off the country’s campaign in track and field events of the multisporting meet. /bmjo

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