Mary Joy Tabal eyes Rio Olympics marathon slot

Ignacio Dee
Mary Joy Tabal eyes Rio Olympics marathon slot
Cebu-based marathoner Mary Joy Tabal is training in Japan with her eyes on making it to the 2016 Olympics

MANILA, Philippines – Just 3 minutes separate Mary Joy Tabal from a slot on the Philippines’ Rio Olympic team. This is a little over one kilometer of distance and she is trying to do it by sharpening in Japan’s cool weather and strict training culture. 

No junk food, no soft drinks. Just nutritious food, excellent training conditions and the culture of excellence by Japanese runners. “Totally no (junk food)! Dinner is at 6:30 pm,” said Tabal in a Facebook private message. 

“It’s so beautiful and a bit even if spring is approaching. We can go on long runs here,” said Tabal. 

She has been staying in Yokohama’s Nippon Sports Science University’s women’s long distance dorm since February 21. 

MotorAce Racing Team, a Cebu-based dealer of Kawasaki, Yamaha and Honda motorcycles, is funding Tabal’s quest to Rio de Janiero. She is being supervised by former marathon ace Akio Usamu, who according to Tabal’s coach John Philip Duenas has a personal best of 2:09. 

Tabal’s training is geared towards making the Olympic standard at the Boston Marathon in April, where former American distance star Dick Beardsley will be helping them. Beardsley, who lost a memorable 1982 Boston duel with Alberto Salazar, was one of the marathon coaches for the Philippines last year.   

According to the latest announcement of the International Amateur Athletics Federation, the standard for the women’s marathon was set at 2:45 from 2:43. 

Tabal, 25, won the women’s race in the 2015 Milo Marathon in 2:48.22, capping a breakout year which was spiced by the 4-foot-11 runner’s gutsy silver medal in the Southeast Asian Games women’s marathon. 

Duenas said he and Tabal met Usamu in Japan during a 2014 marathon program seminar. Usamu was convinced of Tabal’s potential and helped them get in touch with some coaches in Japan. 

Duenas said the Japanese coaches gave him a two-month program for Tabal and then began a 50-day training program that was given to Tabal when she arrived. 

“The coach from Japan give us [a] two-month program before she come in japan so that during here training there they will start the peak program,” said Duenas. 

The estimated cost for this training is at least 300,000 pesos but Duenas said it is a big boom that MotorAce agreed to assume the cost. “It is expensive, we are so lucky to have them,” said Duenas.

Tabal, despite her silver medal in the SEA Games, is not a member of the national team, choosing to remain in Cebu where she trains under Duenas. –

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