Tabal reflects on life, career’s future
Emmanuel B. Villaruel (The Freeman) - March 27, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  With the sports world on a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cebuana Olympic marathoner Mary Joy Tabal took the situation as an opportunity to reflect on the future of her career and life in general.

Armed with a positive mindset, Tabal said she yearns to get better and work harder to reach her goals after a fateful 2019 campaign where she lost her title as Southeast Asia’s marathon queen and was dislodged from her throne after a historic five-year reign in the National Milo Marathon.

For this year, she would have wanted to represent the Philippines again in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But Tabal’s plans didn’t go her way as all the qualifying events she intends to join were all cancelled due to the growing coronavirus threat.

“At first, as an athlete who had made plans ahead for this year, I was very desperate to be better this year, to work harder on the goals I set for myself,” said Tabal, who made history as the first Filipina marathoner to compete in the Olympics at the 2016 Rio Games in Brazil.

“But then this happen, not only affecting us athletes but the entire world,” she added.

For Tabal, what is happening right now around the globe is an eye-opener, that everything is temporary and that everything is fleeting.

“For some of us, this pandemic has opened our eyes to how quickly opportunities can be taken away. I was anxious, I was dealing with so many “what ifs”. I was scared, and I was worried,” said Tabal.

 “But then as days pass by, overthinking won’t be of help. Everyone is doing the best they can to stop, to protect, to provide, to help.  During this uncertain and uncomfortable time, we have to choose wisely what we put our energy into because whatever we feed, will grow.And that is one thing this sport has helped me deal with our current situation.”

Tabal said the tide of things may not have turned on her favor at this point but it will not dampen her hopes to don the country’s colors in another Olympics.

“I have to change plans, my goals for this year can be changed but never my dream to run for the country and to run for another Olympics. This dream will be my foundation for the coming days, months and years.”

While staying at home due to the enhanced community quarantine imposed on the entire province of Cebu, Tabal said he keep herself fit by doing indoor exercises.

“It has been eight days that I have stayed home and have been doing indoor exercises. Sometimes that is all you can ask your body for. It might not be the longest or the hardest workout I can make everyday,  but it helps my mental health and that’s all that matters to me. Being safe and healthy is way better than being sorry,” said Tabal.

In the face of the critical situation the whole world is locked up right now, Tabal has some sage advice to her fellow athletes.

“We all have to focus on the things we can only control and think or do more of what makes us happy. I know it’s a rough situation right now, but for me as an athlete, I’ve got a lot of time to reflect, to recover, to sleep, and focus on self improvement, focus on the good and think of the things that you might be of help,” Tabal said.

“As for me, I still find ways to interact with my fellow friends through doing FB Live and sharing them activities they can do at home to keep them active. We can still be positive. We can still work towards our goals, just in a different way, and be always flexible with your methods,” she ended.

MARY JOY TABAL
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