MANILA, Philippines – It’s going to be a busy year for top Filipina marathoner Mary Joy Tabal as she aims to nail an Olympic berth and defend her Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medal.
Despite the lofty expectations, Tabal remains optimistic that she will be able to reach her goals.
“It’s a continuous process for us because it’s not only about SEA Games and I know that 2019 will be busier for me because I’m planning to qualify again for the Tokyo 2020,” said the 29-year-old marathon sensation.
The 2017 SEA Games marathon champion is already a step ahead after winning a record six-peat title in the 42nd Milo Marathon National Finals last December to earn the right to represent the country anew in the SEA Games.
“This would be my third SEA Games and actually, pressure for me is part of us being athletes, especially if you’re bringing the name of our country and we’re the host,” admitted Tabal.
“Then ako yung previous SEA Games champion so ang advantage ko lang siguro is tayo yung host country, so we have to make use of dito yung venue.”
(I’m the previous SEA Games champion, so my advantage is that we’re the host country and we have to make the most out of our venue.)
But the Cebuana’s biggest goal for the year is to break her record of 2 hours, 43 minutes and 29 seconds set in the 2016 Ottawa Marathon in Canada, and hit the Olympic qualifying time of 2:42:00.
“‘Yung best time niya ng 1 hour 16 sa 21 km niya. Possible talaga yung 2:40 niya pero medyo hindi pa confident si Joy so china-challenge ko siya na kaya mo yan,” said Philip Duenas, Tabal’s coach.
(Her best time is 1 hour and 16 minutes in the 21 km. The time of 2:40 is really possible, but Joy isn’t too confident yet, so we’re challenging her that she can do it.)
Aside from Duenas, Tabal will be joined by a Japanese and an Italian coach, who will guide her throughout the tough year.
The Filipina will kick of the year preparing for the 2019 Tokyo Marathon set on March 3, which will serve as a trial for the 2020 Olympics. – Rappler.com
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