Capas, Tarlac—Christine Hallasgo did the unexpected and pulled off an upset today in the 30th SEA Southeast Asia Games marathon, which started and finished inside the New Clark City Athletic Stadium here.
The 27-year-old Hallasgo found her chance to go for the women’s crown when Indonesian runner Odekta Naibaho collapsed in exhaustion in the last 400 meters as she reached the turn going into the NCC complex.
As Naibaho was carried out of race route, Hallasgo took over the lead and reached the track stadium finish line with Tabal for a 1-2 finish among Filipina bets in the women’s division.
Hallasgo, first-ever gold medal on her first-ever SEA Games stint, came after she reached the finish line in two hours, 56 minutes and 56 seconds.
Tabal, who dropped down in exhaustion upon reaching the finish line, was one minute and 53 seconds behind to check in at 2:58.49, and she had to be carried off the track in a stretcher when it was over.
“Hindi ko inexpect na ako ang mananalo. Nagdasal ako ng kundisyon ang katawan ko para 'di ako maiwan sa lead pack,” said Hallasgo, who made it to the national team as a late entry.
Her coach, former SEA Games veteran Eduardo Buenavista, said Hallasgo just followed her instructions to the letter.
“Timing lang. Sabi ko, sumunod ka lang sa kalaban. Pag nakita mong bumagal, mag-umpisa ka nang mauna,” said Buenavista to Hallasgo, who regular runs in 21-km races.
This is Hallasgo’s best time this season after she won the Manila leg of the 2019 Milo Marathon with a time of 3:06.28.
Vietnamese runner Thi Hong Le Pham, who took the silver in the 2017 SEA Games, settled for the bronze with a time of 3:02.52.
Indonesia’s Agus Prayogo, the silver medalist back in the 2017, clocked 2:26.48 to rule the men’s marathon with Thailand’s Sanchet Namkai (2:27.18) and Malaysia’s Muhaizar Mohamad (2:33.08) taking the silver and bronze, respectively.
Defending champion Soh Rui Yong, who was banned from competition by the Singapore National Olympic Committee, due to conflicts with officials, showed up to coach young Singaporean runner Gordon Lim, who was seventh.
Local bets Jerald Zabala finished fifth (2:37.20) while Anthony Nerza sixth (2:39.28) for the locals in the men’s division.
The two came in place of the late Rafael Poliquit, who died from an illness while in training.
Tabal who was favored to retain her crown, said the sweltering early morning heat affected her though she managed to stay behind Pham and Naibaho until the last 10 kilometers.
The heat took its toll on the exhausted Tabal, allowing Hallasgo to take over while negotiating a hilly terrain.
“I am happy for Christine. That’s because this is her first SEA Games appearance,” said Tabal, who took instructions from her coach John Philip Duenas.