Mary Joy Tabal said she was not feeling well, totally nervous as though she was carrying the weight of the whole Filipino nation because of huge expectation.
With only a couple of hours of sleep, she ran the 42-kilometer marathon with all her might to deliver the first gold for the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games.
“Sobrang bigat po ng katawan ko kasi excited ako. Sana po eto na ang umpisa ng mas maraming gold para sa Pilipinas,” said Tabal after topping the women’s battle with a time of 2 hours and 48.24.
Tabal said her hard training in Italy boosted her confidence going into the race in the morning before she joins her hundreds of teammates in the formal opening ceremony of the Games in the evening.
“I don’t want to disappoint the Filipinos. Tiwala lang po sa sarili. Mas matindi pa po dito ang dinaanan kong training,” added the pride of Cebu, who was the only Filipino qualifier in athletics when she competed in the Rio Olympics last year.
Compatriot Jeson Agravante placed seventh in the men’s division.