KUALA LUMPUR -- After a failed campaign in the Rio Olympics, Mary Joy Tabal aims to end a long seven-year gold medal drought in marathon event when she campaigns in the 29th Southeast Asian Games Saturday at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium here.
Tabal hopes to improve her silver medal finish in the previous SEA Games in Singapore as she starts her campaign in the 42-kilometer race that kicks off at 6:15 in the morning.
Also hoping for a podium finish is Jeson Agravante in the men’s competition.
With enough training in Italy and Switzerland, the 28-year-old Tabal is expected to overcome the expected 38 to 41 degrees early morning temperature and deliver the country’s first gold after an earlier one silver and two bronzes haul in the first three-days of competition.
“Feelings that’s hard to express in words. I’m excited, nervous, thankful, humbled and hopeful. I will wear the flag with pride. I will compete with a heart and will fight like a warrior,” the pint-size Tabal said.
“Yes! Goal for this training is the SEA Games. I had a good training in Italy, it was indeed hard but rewarding, it went well.”
With a time of 3:04:39 in 2015 in Singapore, Tabal is expecting rivals and SEA Games gold medalist Natthaya Thanaronnawat of Thailand (3:03:25) and bronze medal winner Hoang Th Thanh of Vietnam (3:07:14) to give her close competition in the race.
“I am always grateful for everything. I will never be here right now without the people who believed in me, no words can express how grateful I am now for having these opportunities. It’s a great feeling to be bringing our country’s name,” said Tabal.
For his part, Agravante of Silay City vowed to do his best in the marathon event previously ruled by Eduardo Buenavista in 2009 in Laos and Jho-An Banayag (2:46:34).