Paris still on Tabal’s mind

Despite giving birth, Mary Joy Tabal remains glued on her goal of competing in the Paris Olympics.

In the latest episode of The Athletes Tribune, the 33-year-old long-distance specialist stressed that she is planning to spend the remainder of the year for rest and recovery before plunging back to training for the Summer Games.

The Cebu-based Tabal used to be the country’s toast in athletics.

She won the Milo National Marathon a record of six times and ruled the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.

Although she lost to teammate Christine Hallasgo in the 30th edition of the biennial meet in 2019, the fact still remains that she is one of the country’s finest runners with a personal best of one hour, 16 minutes and 29 seconds in 42-kilometer run.

With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the country, Tabal took a breather from her athletic career to get married to her longtime boyfriend, Lt. Junior Grade Hector Dan Jimenez of the Philippine Navy.
They tied the knot in a simple celebration on 8 January before giving birth nine months later.

Still, Tabal is not completely abandoning her athletic career.

“Right now, I’m focusing on eating and drinking healthily for breastfeeding the baby as I never expected to lose weight fast,” said Tabal, who still ran her treadmill few weeks before giving birth, told host Nikki Viola during the weekly sports program of Daily Tribune.

“I also get hungry whenever I’m feeding her.”

Tabal is facing a very busy year as far as her return is concerned.

Aside from the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association will also gear up for the 19th Asian Games in China as well as several Olympic qualifying tournaments.

Tabal admitted that she may be running out of time to get back into shape under the guidance of her longtime coach, John Duenas, since the SEA Games will be held from 5 to 17 May.

But for the Olympic qualifiers and the Asian Games, which will be held around September, there’s a strong chance for the petite Cebuana to be in good condition to reclaim her throne as the country’s marathon queen.

The last athlete to compete in the Olympics after giving birth is Marestella Torres-Sunang, who became a mother in 2014 before competing in the Summer Games in 2016.

“My personal goal is to compete in the Paris Olympics. That’s my ultimate goal,” said Tabal, adding that her husband is very supportive of her athletic career.

“As for the SEA Games, I’m not putting a lot of pressure on myself since it isn’t part of the qualification for the Olympics.”

Tabal said even without her in the SEA Games, the country still has a strong chance to reclaim the crown in women’s marathon.

“I know the SEA Games is one of the first competitions the Philippine team will join but I won’t be forcing myself too much there,” she said.

“We have Christine Hallasgo and other athletes who want to represent the country and are capable of winning.”

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