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Cebuano marathoner Mary Joy Tabal explains her silver finish in SEA Games

By: Mars G. Alison December 06,2019 - 06:32 PM

Top 3 finishers in the women’s marathon of the 30th Southeast Asian Games. From left to right are Mary Joy Tabal (silver), Christine Hallasgo (gold) and Hong Le Thi Pham (bronze). The event was held Friday, December 6, 2019 at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium. | Mars G. Alison

NEW TARLAC CITY, Philippines — “I wasn’t running my race.”

This was how Cebu’s Mary Joy Tabal described her stint in the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) where she finished with a silver medal, Friday, December 6, at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium. 

Tabal finished second to fellow Philippine marathon runner Christine Hallasgo. While Hallasgo crossed the finish line still quite pumped up, Tabal crossed the finish line looking exhausted, took one groggy step, then collapsed on the oval. 

She had to be carried out of oval on a stretcher and was even acting delirious while inside the medical room in between bouts of vomiting. 

“Dismayado, pero wala na koy mabuhat (I’m disappointed but there’s nothing I can do about it). I was not running my race. I was holding back. Wa sad ko ga expect sa weather (I was not also expecting the hot weather), ” said Tabal. 

Read more: SEA Games: Hallasgo beats favorite Tabal as PH goes 1-2 in women’s marathon

Tabal was not the only one who got affected by the scorching heat of the sun. Indonesian Odekta Elvina Naibaho was leading and already had the gold medal in the bag when she collapsed about 400 meters from the finish line which was situated inside the stadium.

The Indonesian tried to get up but eventually did not finish. 

Tabal seemed to have blacked out in the last few meters as she didn’t even had an idea that she finished the race and even bagged the silver. 

“I really thought I finished in fourth place,” said Tabal adding that “I didn’t know that someone in front had collapsed. 

Read more: Who dethroned Cebu’s Mary Joy Tabal?

Tabal admitted that she was also at fault in what happened. 

She narrated that the race had started fine and her plan was to take the first loop as a warm-up. 

However, Tabal was surprised when her  opponents just stayed behind her. It was Thailand who broke away but was not able to pull away and Tabal was able to rein her back in.

Tabal said she was thinking of breaking away but couldn’t decide on the right timing. 

Until she was taken aback when Indonesia and Vietnam started to pull away at a very fast pace and it left her scrambling.

“I tried to run their pace. We were already done with 30k and I was thinking I can still do this because there’s 12 kilometers more to go,” said Tabal.

It was also then that she got distracted and because she was doing the chasing, she started feeling her hamstrings cramping. 

“By then my morale was low already and I started thinking if I should stop or continue the race and I couldn’t get my pace,” said Tabal.

But with 35 kilometers done and just seven kilometers more to go, Tabal still believed that she could do it.

By then she was already feeling the exhaustion, she was having chills and she couldn’t hear anymore. 

Tabal said she was very grateful for the people, who supported her especially MotorAce team manager Jonel Borromeo who called her up and assured her that what matters was that she was okay. 

“You can’t win all the time,” Borromeo told Tabal. 

Tabal said she was still glad that the gold medal had gone to a Filipino.

“It is something to be grateful. I am happy for Christine who bagged a gold in her first SEA Games. I am proud of her,” said Tabal./dbs

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