Mary Joy Tabal was born on July 13, 1989. Hailing from Cebu City, Tabal has participated in many competitive sports activities that involved long distance running events, such as the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, where she won a silver medal, and the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she ranked 124th.
Tabal’s road to the gold at the SEA Games was not easy as it was paved with controversy, especially concerning her rocky relationship with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA). The president of the organization, Philip Juico, argued that Tabal’s failure to comply with rules and regulations should be a reason for her exclusion from the 2017 SEA Games.
Tabal’s difficult relationship with the athletic governing body affected her training in Italy, as her removal from the national team stalled her participation in competitive women marathons.
Tabal, however, was given another chance at redemption by Patafa, but on the condition that she adhere to its rules and regulations.
On Saturday morning in Putrajaya, Tabal powered her way to victory, becoming the first Filipino athlete in the SEA Games to win a gold. YSABEL PADUA, Researcher