Cebuana Olympic hopeful Mary Joy Tabal is teaming up with a Japanese coach in her quest to become the first Pinay to join the marathon event in the Rio Olympics.
Tabal, the three-time Milo Marathon national finals champion who is operating outside the national team set-up, will train in Japan under coach Akio Usami.
Tabal will leave for Japan on February 22 and will fly to Boston on April 11 for the Boston Marathon, where she will try to make the Rio Olympics women's marathon qualifying time of 2:45.
Her personal best, recorded in 2013, is 2:48.
"Japan has the finest equipment and sports program I have seen and for Joy to train there is a big factor," said John Philip Duenas, Tabal's long-time coach who changed her from a short-distance sprinter to a long-distance threat.
Duenas also thanked the sponsors who have shouldered the training of the Cebuana, who left the national team late last year.
"The financial expense for this is really big and I thank our sponsors for making this happen and giving Joy a chance to chase that Olympic dream," said Duenas.
Both Tabal and Duenas were recipients of the Jenesys 2.0 Marathon Youth Exchange Programme in Japan in 2014 and both even won a 20K race during that stint.
Tabal, who will be the first Filipino to train under Usami, will also have regular training sessions at the Nippon Sports Science University in Yokohama.
Aside from contacting the renowned Japanese coach, Tabal's backers--Motor Ace Philippines and Motor Ace Racing--has also linked with Dick Beardsley, who finished second in the 1982 Boston Marathon.
Beardsley will help Tabal when she arrives in Boston.*PNA
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