Filipina marathoner qualifies in 2016 Rio Olympics

MANILA – A Filipina MILO marathon champion has earned ticket to the prestigious Olympic Games in Rio de Jainero in August this year after beating the Olympic qualifying time in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in Canada last Sunday.

According to the press statement of MILO Philippines, Mary Joy Tabal clocked in with the time of 2 hours, 43 minutes and 29 seconds to surpass the 2:45:00 Olympic qualifying time for the women’s marathon.

”We’d like to share the good news with you that reigning MILO Marathon Queen Mary Joy Tabal just secured a slot to play in the Rio Olympics when she finished the race in the recently concluded Ottawa Marathon in Canada,” said Andrea Alido, account executive of Strategic Edge, Inc., MILO Philippines’ PR partner.

After falling short in her stint at the Boston Marathon last April, Tabal unleashed an impressive comeback in Ottawa’s prestigious footrace.

Known as the Great White North’s largest and fastest marathon, the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon is one of two International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Gold Label races in Canada, attracting a world contingent of about 7,000 runners every year because of its flat and fast race course.

The 26-year-old Cebuana gained a substantial lead against other competitors, and was able to rank 5th in the female age group, 8th in the overall elite female category and 38th in the overall elite male and female category, out of a total of 4,416 elite participants.

The unusually hot and humid weather prompted the organizers to implement route and time changes before the event but Tabal was able to deliver a strong performance at the start of the race.

As she neared the finish line, she was troubled by intense leg pains which caused her to slow down. Despite this, the Filipina frontrunner still willed herself to overcome the challenge.

“My body felt heavier when I reached the 35km mark and my pacing got slower and slower as I went farther,” Tabal shared.

“When I checked, I was only 7 km shy to the end of the race. I decided to carry on forcefully and ignore the pain. It was very difficult to preserve my stride especially in the last 200 meters. I kept on telling myself that if I stop now, I won’t be able to make it here again so I ran like it was the last my race of my life. I was so happy to be able to hit my goal I broke down in tears as I ran past the finish line,” she added.

Now with another feather on her cap, Tabal, with the help of her coach Philip Duenas, will be embarking on a new journey to prepare for the Rio Olympics.

“I couldn’t believe this is happening! I often ask myself if this is real or not. To play in the Olympics was once a dream but now it’s finally in my hands,” she said. “I hope this will inspire more Filipino athletes who dreamt like I did. It may seem impossible at first, but all it really takes is a lot of effort and willpower in overcoming trials to be able to achieve your goals.”

Tabal added that the support of MILO and the Filipinos helped her to keep going.

“I am very thankful to the well-wishers who prayed for my success and to MILO who has supported me right from the start,” she said “I started to dream big because of MILO. And now, I am slowly achieving those dreams one by one.” Jelly Musico/ PNA/