RIO DE JANEIRO -– Marestella Torres-Sunang, in her third and last Olympics, is even more determined to reach the finals of the women’s long jump in this 2016 Summer Games.
Now 35, married and with a child, Sunang has failed twice in the Olympics, in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012. On both occasions, she failed to deliver her best performance.
“Sana nga dito ako maka-finals. Last Olympics ko na ito. Finals talaga ang target,” said Sunang in her early days in Rio de Janeiro.
Sunang arrived in this city of samba with the main group of the Philippine delegation last July 23. It’s been three weeks now and the excitement and pressure are building up.
"Okay naman ako. Excited na din kasi ang tagal na naghintay dito,” she said on the eve of the women’s long jump competition at the Nilton Santos Stadium.
Sunang will be among the 38 entries seeking one of the 12 finals slots at stake. Action begins at nine p.m. Tuesday (eight a.m. Wednesday in Manila). Each entry will be given three attempts each.
Any athlete that jumps 6.75 will get an automatic finals slot.
In London, four years ago, Sunang could not jump longer than 6.22 meters in three attempts, doing 5.98 and 6.21 in her first two attempts.
It was a huge disappointment because prior to the London Games she just won the SEA Games gold in Palembang with a record jump of 6.71 meters.
She surpassed that mark last month at the Kazakhstan Open, doing 6.72 and earning a ticket to the Rio Olympics. She wants to match or surpass that effort in Rio.
If she manages to at least duplicate her personal best here, then Sunang should make it to the finals scheduled Wednesday at 9:15 p.m.
“Ma-surpass ko lang best ko aabot na sa finals,” said Sunang, who describes herself as a “diesel engine” that takes time to warm up.
Sunang said her normal best comes out in the fourth, fifth or sixth jumps. But since they will be given only three jumps each on Monday, something has to be done.
“Didiskartehan naming ni coach,” said Torres of her coach here, former long jumper Joebert Delicano.
“Ang plano namin is sa warm up area pa lang, jump siya. Para warmed up na siya ng husto sa first official jump niya,” said Delicano.
Torres said clearing the foul line is their focus now.
“Maiwasan lang talaga ang mga foul sa jump,” said Sunang.