Tabal settles for silver in SEA Games
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - December 7, 2019 - 12:00am

CAPAS, TARLAC, Philippines —  Mary Joy Tabal faltered in her quest for back-to-back gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games after the decorated Cebuana long distance runner was stunned by her compatriot Christine Hallasgo in women's marathon event of the 30th SEAG yesterday at the New Clark City Oval here.

It was a resounding 1-2 finish for the Philippines but the order of result was certainly not expected as Tabal was heavily favored to savor another golden moment just like what she achieved in the 2017 Indonesia SEA Games, a year after she made history as the first Filipina Olympic marathoner in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

But in a shocking outcome especially to the Cebu running community, the fancied Tabal fell short of her target as it was the unheralded footracer from Malaybalay City, Bukidnon who snatched the coveted gold.

Delivering a tour de force performance, Hallasgo clocked two hours, 56 minutes and 56 seconds to bump Tabal from the pedestal while claiming the title as the new golden girl of women’s marathon in the biennial sports conclave.

It was an upset of large proportion for someone who has only made the national pool last July and who didn’t have the luxury of training abroad.

“I only made the training pool last July,” said the 26-year-old Business Administration student at Bukidnon State University in Filipino. “I sacrificed not seeing my child and family for a long stretch just to train and focus on the SEA Games.”

It was also a big turnaround to Hallasgo’s performance in the National Finals of the Milo Marathon a year ago when she finished third and 10 minutes behind eventual winner Tabal. And Hallasgo had former SEAG gold winner and Olympian Eduardo Buenavista to thank for.

“If not for him (Buenavista), I wouldn’t have achieved this,” she said.

Tabal, the heavy favorite to win here being the 2017 gold medal winner and an Olympian who trained in Japan where the weather is relatively cool, checked in at 2:58:49 to settle for the silver. Vietnam’s Pham Hong Le Thi took the bronze in 3:02:52.

Worse, Tabal passed out due to exhaustion at the finish line and was rushed into the nearby medic room. She eventually recovered her consciousness a few minutes later but never the gold. Tabal later said the race should have been started earlier.

“I think it will be more competitive if we started earlier. Everyone were so exhausted in the emergency room, I heard someone cry and shout, I was also shouting,” said Tabal.

“I also heard in another room screaming so everyone was exhausted, but then it was part of the race,” he added.

Tabal, however, was gracious in defeat.

“I’m very happy and proud to be able to represent the country, it makes me happy to win second and Christine made it first,” she said.

In the men’s side, local bets Jerald Zabala and Anthony Nerza finished fifth and sixth respectively, behind winner Indonesia’s Agus Prayogo who took the gold in 2:26:48. Philippine STAR News Service, EBV (FREEMAN)

MARY JOY TABAL
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