FOR Olympian Mary Joy Tabal, winning anything but the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games is not an option.
After settling for the silver in the previous edition in Singapore, Tabal declared readiness to win the gold when she competes in the women's marathon competition of the 29th SEA Games before dawn this Saturday.
"My ultimate goal is to win the gold," said the 28-year old long-distance runner who grew stronger and wiser after seeing action in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last year.
Tabal was hounded by controversy for resigning from the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa) after the Singapore SEA Games.
But she pulled off a stunner when she submitted an impressive two hours, 43 minutes and 31 seconds to finish eighth in the prestigious Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in Ottawa, Canada last year, a victory that gave her a ticket to the Olympics.
She was reinstated in Patafa and registered 3:02:27 in the Summer Games for 124th place, no thanks to the punishing heat in the Brazilian capital.
This time, she's ready.
"My training in Italy and Switzerland helped me a lot," said the 4-foot-11 Cebu native, who vowed to knock the crown off the head of SEA Games gold medalist Natthaya Thanaronnawat of Thailand.
Also expected to make an impact is Jeson Agravante, who will campaign in the men's side.
Agravante suffered cramps before finishing 124th in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon last May where he clocked 2:56:59.1.
“Magaling na ako. Nakatakbo rin kami ni coach Rene (Herrera) sa Baguio at kondisyon naman na ako,” said Agravante, who made it to the national squad after ruling the Iloilo National Milo Marathon last December.