MANILA, Philippines — With a target on her back, women’s marathon title holder Christine Hallasgo vows to give whatever it takes to retain her gold medal in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, which opens Thursday next week.
“I feel a bit of pressure because I was the previous gold medalist. All eyes are on me,” Hallasgo told Inquirer Sports in Filipino.
“Although the other countries had more time to train, compared to me and other Filipino athletes. Having a limited time to train makes me more motivated to win the gold again.”
Hallasgo dethroned her compatriot and Marathon queen Mary Joy Tabal to win the 2019 edition, conquering the 42-kilometer race in 2 hours, 56 minutes and 56 seconds.
Unlike her rivals from other countries like Vietnam who had more time to train amid the pandemic, the lone Filipino competitor in this year’s women’s marathon is confident that her Baguio training since October last year immensely prepared her quest to win back-to-back gold medals.
“Rain or shine, we train. No excuses whatever the weather conditions here in Baguio. In our training area the air is thin. There’s an uphill and downhill. I can say I am well prepared this coming SEA Games,” said Hallasgo. “My coach said I’ve improved in my workouts and long runs, compared to my training in the last SEA Games.”
“If ever the climate will be cold in Vietnam, it would be an advantage since it’s cold in Baguio. Steep routes would also be an advantage for me since I got used to it,” she added.
The marathoner from Malaybalay City in Bukidnon didn’t expect to win in her first SEA Games. But now that she is defending it, she is eager to carry the flag with a gold medal again
“I want to feel that moment again. Winning the gold and waving the Philippine flag in the SEA Games,” she said.
With rival marathoners in the region seeking to dethrone her, Hallasgo promises she will do everything to keep the Philippines on top.
“I can’t say if I will be able to defend my title because everyone is aiming for this. But all I can assure is I am a fighter. Even if I get tired and will have a tough time, I will strive to defend my title, not for myself, but for my team ad the country,” Hallasgo said.
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