Cebuana athlete Mary Joy Tabal made her mark in the national and global stage of running in 2015. Her accomplishments gave Cebuanos something to cheer about.

Tabal shone the brightest among the top athletes of Cebu in 2015 and earned the “Athlete of the Year” award from the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) in the 36th SAC-San Miguel Beer Sports Awards at the Robinsons Galleria Cebu this evening.

“I’m honored to be given this award (Athlete of the Year). I think 2015 has been good to me. I’ve accomplished some major races which helped me to where I am now,” Tabal said after finishing the 2016 Boston Marathon last Tuesday where she ranked 21st among 50 female elite runners of the world.

Mary Joy Tabal
RUNNING QUEEN Mary Joy Tabal won her 3rd straight Milo Marathon national crown in 2015. (Photo taken from Mary Joy Tabal’s Facebook page)

SEA Games silver

The 26-year-old Tabal won silver medal in the women’s marathon of the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore in June 2015, despite being a first-timer on the biennial sporting event.

Six months after, Tabal got a piece of Philippine running history as she won her third straight title in the National Milo Marathon Finals. Tabal joined Arsenia Saragay and Christabel Martes on the short list of female runners who won three-peat in the National Milo Marathon.

The all-expense paid trip to 2016 Boston Marathon was her prize for winning the Milo Marathon Finals in December 2015.

Milo Marathon national finals

The win also made Tabal the third-winningest female runner in Milo Marathon national finals next to Saragay and Martes, who have five and four titles, respectively.

In November of 2015, the former sprinter of Southwestern University (SWU) finished fourth overall out of 17 elite runners in Asia in the Great Eastern Women’s Run in Singapore. She was able to ink then her best time in half-marathon which was 1:19:32. Her new best time now in 21K is 1:18:44 set in Japan this month, which could potentially become the new Philippine record for women’s 21K.

Tabal bucked the odds in Great Eastern Women’s Run and came out as the fastest Filipina on the race, beating the Filipina runners who were sent as representatives by Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA).

Tabal also had impressive runs in Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon and L.A Marathon on the first quarter of 2015.

Mary JoyTabal Boston Marathon
Mary Joy Tabal finished the Boston Marathon 21st among 50 female elite runners of the world. (Photo from her Instagram account)

Giving back

The native of Brgy. Guba, Cebu City came second in the women’s division of the Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon. She finished 27th in the women’s overall ranking and 12th in the 25 to 29 division in L.A Marathon which was joined by runners from 50 US states and 60 countries.

With all the accomplishments she had in 2015, Tabal did not forget where she come from and has worked with Cebu City Sports Commission (CCSC) to teach the fundamentals of running to the kids in the mountainous areas.

Tabal together with coach John Philip Dueñas, CCSC and Department of Education (DepEd) started the grassroots program in summer of 2015. The first batch of students was from Brgy.Guba with more than 100 kids introduced to running.

Sporting meets

With the efforts of Tabal and the grassroots team, some of these kids are now taking running seriously, winning fun runs and sporting meets.

“I am very blessed in 2015. So far, it was the most special year for me. I think my discipline, focus and determination have paid off for me. I was also blessed because of the people who support me,” said Tabal.

Tabal has come a long way; the runner who once collapsed at the finish line on her first 10K run is now the country’s current top female marathoner.

Other major awardees

Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes, the longest-reigning Filipino world boxing champion, and back-to-back PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo of the San Miguel Beermen were also given awards in the annual SAC-SMB All-Cebu Sports Awards.

Other major awardees are Grandmaster Richard Bitoon and Jerish John Velarde (chess), Lloyd Jefferson “LJ” Go and Charles Hong (golf), Daniela Reggie de la Pisa (gymnastics), Kiyomi Watanabe (judo), Rafael Vidal (karatedo), Ken Caniga (Muay Thai), Raven Faith Alcoseba and Maxime Rooney (swimming), Rinna Babanto (taekwondo) and Justin Liam Chiongbian (triathlon).

Special citations were also handed out to various individuals who made their marks in their respective fields.

They are Shanelle Siasoyco, Eden de la Fuente and Mart John Torregosa for athletics, Vincent Villa for archery, the Central Visayas and Southwestern University badminton teams, Kristine Ortega Acuna, Jasper Cabrera, Oscar Bradshaw IV, Ben Maravilles and Isaac Bacarisas for batted sports, pro basketball stars Dondon Hontiveros, Sonny Thoss and Terrence Romeo, Cebuano NBA trainer/coach Jefferson Codera, Jed Cedric Colonia, Team Pura and the University of San Carlos Warriors and Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles.

Special citations

Also feted were Rubilen Amit and Warren Kiamco for billiards, Xyrra Cabusas, GJ Buyco and Clarence Hubert Tiu for bowling, brothers Jason and Albert Pagara, Mark Magsayo, Kenny Demecillo, Marlon Tapales, Arthur Villanueva, Kevin Jake Cataraja, John Nino Vega, Vicente Sios-e, Eduardo Jimenez, Alexander Bonito, Berland Robles and Dominic Casanares for pro and amateur boxing, Josephine Teria and Dennis Delgado for bodybuilding.

Rounding up the honorees were Andres Calma for car racing, Laila Nadera and USC chess team, Nino Surban, John Mier, and Jun Duron for cycling/mountainbike, Aaliyah Mataragnon and Yuan Chiongbian for triathlon/duathlon/cycling, Pearl Caneda, Wilbert Aunza and Team Cebu City Dancesport, Alexandrea Gumilao, Leo Gabriel Maquiling, Kyle Ronquillo, Jessie Riel Semblante, Major Dean Ebarle, Lawrence Colina, Jake Allen Vicen, Kintaro Miyagi, Jordan Blair Jarvis, Paref-Springdale, Mandaue City/SHS-AdC, Dominique Canonigo, Mark Joseph Arranguez, Raphael de Guzman and Leylam FC for football, Weiwei Gao form golf, Marian Delgado, Eunice Odag and Dianne Sophia Navarro for gymnastics, Lovely Gitaruelas for jiujitsu, Orencio James Virgil delos Santos and Tracy Lynn Basalo for judo, Cebu City Muay Thai team, Jubenile Abellar for motocross, Dixie Yu, Aiumi Ono, Madille Salinas and Cebu Lady Dragons for rugby football, Reynante de la Cerna and USJ-R Scrabble Team, RheyJey Ortuoste for sepak takraw, Paul Bryant Yu for shooting, Jasmine Alkhadi, Loren Dale Echavez, Michael Ichiro Kong for swimming, Richard Gonzales, Berto Bas and the University of Cebu Webmasters for table tennis), Veronica Garces, Dineson Caneda, Nichole Maurin, Lee Robeigayle Navales, Aidaine Laxa, Cheyena de la Fuente, Moses Bullicer, Clement Tan and MacAvyngr Alob for table tennis, Elizabeth Abarquez and Zethley Mae Alferez for lawn tennis, Catherine Yu, Issa Priagula, Jundeb Andre Esquivel, Ralph Edward So, John Philip Duenas, Joseph Miller and Tenggoy Colmenares for triathlon/duathlon, Suzuki BMR Zic Racing Team for underbone, Gretchel Soltones, USJ-R, Catmon EZS and Edward Ybañez for volleyball, Danika Gendrauli, Jade Becaldo, Edward Ybañez and Edmar Bonono for beach volleyball. (POOLED REPORT)

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