RIO DE JANEIRO: Mary Joy Tabal of the Philippines could not handle Brazil’s noontime heat Sunday (Monday in Manila) and finished way outside her targeted time in the women’s marathon of the Rio Olympics.
Tabal aimed at surpassing her personal best of two hours 43 minutes and 31 seconds in the race that started and ended at Sambrodome, the venue of the world-famous Rio Carnival.
But she failed to live up to her own expectations, terribly suffering under the heat and finishing with a time of 3:02:27, which was good for 124th among 157 starters.
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong gave Kenya its first Olympic gold in women’s marathon, winning with a time of 2:24:04, which is just under a minute off the Olympic record.
Eunice Jepkirul Kirwa of Bahrain took the silver medal in 2:24:13 while Ethiopian Mare Dibaba bagged the bronze with a time of 2:24:30.
Three runners from the United States finished inside the top 10, joined by one more entry from Ethiopia, Belarus, Bahrain and the People’s Republic of Korea.
The top finishers were already done with the press interviews along the finish line area when the lone Filipina entry crossed the finish, cheered on by the crowd.
Tabal was 38 minutes and 23 seconds behind the winner from Kenya.
Tabal was so exhausted after the race she was on the verge of collapse. Medical staff of the Rio Olympics attended to her immediately.
It took some time before Tabal regained her composure. Medics offered to wheel her out but said there was really no need for the wheelchair.
A total of 24 did not finish the race.
Tabal said she saw runners quit during the race, most of them in the final 10 kms. Runners crossing the finish line and falling to the ground was a common sight.
“Some could not stand the heat. I wanted to stop but I tried my best to finish the race,” she said.
“Slowly but surely, I finished it. I told myself I won’t end up DNF,” added Tabal.
It was a gallant effort on her side even if she fell way short of her target. She said on the eve of the race that she was targeting a time faster than her 2:43:31.
I was aiming for 2:40,” she said.
But Tabal said the heat slowed her down. She also rued the lack of water stations along the 42.195 km route but said it’s not really the reason for her failure.
All the other runners went through the same ordeal. Others say Tabal had suffered from burnout after running a marathon too many this year.
“I did my best to finish. In the last 10 kilometers I felt like giving up,” said Tabal.
“But this is the Olympics so I really tried to finish. I cannot stop, I was thinking of our fellowmen watching the race,” she added.