KUALA LUMPUR — Mary Joy Tabal brought honor to the country by bagging the first gold medal for the Philippines by winning the women’s marathon at the ongoing 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The 28-year-old Tabal outclassed her competitors in the women’s marathon by showcasing a dominant finishing in an impressive time way ahead of her closest rival.

Tabal finished the 42.195-km. race in 2 hours 48 minutes 11 seconds way ahead of the second placer Hoang Thi Thanh of Vietnam who checked in at more than 7 minutes behind the Filipina, and Natthaya Thanaronnawat of Thailand in third place.

The Cebuana marathoner also delivered a silver medal finish in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

With Tabal ruling the women’s marathon, the Philippines now has a 1-1-2 (gold-silver-bronze) medal count, with the silver medal coming from sepak takraw and the bronze medals from archery.

At the Opening Ceremony, with pride and honor, the Philippine delegation wearing its national barong tagalog uniform was the sixth nation to enter the stadium with a contingent size of 300 athletes led by Chef de mission Cynthia Carreon, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) member, president of the local gymnastics federation and taekwondo jin; and 2016 Olympian, Kirstie Elaine Alora, Philippine flag bearer.

On the eve of the opening ceremony, Carreon said the athletes were “really in an up mood”.

“I’ve been to a lot of SEA Games and this is the first time I saw the athletes in an up mood. Don’t you feel it? They really want to win something. They are really fighting hard to put the Philippines up there,” she said. (Meg Siozon and Tretch Melarpes/PTV Sports; Primo P. Agatep/PNA)

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