Torres-Sunang breaks PH long jump record to reach Olympic qualifying mark

MANILA, Philippines - Marestella Torres-Sunang, battling rain and windy conditions, jumped 6.72 meters to capture gold at a track meet in Kazakhstan in her last attempt to achieve the qualifying mark in the women's long jump for the Rio Olympics, the Philippines' athletics chief told Rappler.com on Monday, July 4.

In a text message, Philip Juico said if Torres' mark, which surpassed her own Philippine record of 6.71m, is certified by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), she will be the third trackster to make the Philippine team. The old mark was set at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia.

Part of the certification process is getting the wind gauge report, which could invalidate a performance if the trailing wind exceeds more than 2 meters per second. Juico told Rappler he was trying to get the wind gauge reading from Sunang's coach Joebert Delicano.

"I just talked to Marestella Torres Sunang and she did 6.72 in the Kazakhstan Open to qualify for the Rio Olympics," said Juico in his message. "It was her sixth and last jump in windy conditions compounded by continuous rains. She fouled in her fourth and fifth jumps."

Performing best when the chips are down, the 35-year-old Torres-Sunang showed why she is the country's track queen after she battled back into form after she fell short of qualifying with a 6.60m mark in the National Open. Torres had also lost her entry to the Philippine team through universality clause when Mary Joy Tabal qualified by making the cut off in a marathon in Ottawa last May.

Sunang won an event in Kyrgyzstan with a jump of 6.47 meters and then topped the Kosarov Memorial in Kazakhstan with a leap of 6.52 meters before improving her mark by 20 centimeters.

If the IAAF approves Torres-Sunang's performance, athletics would have 3 entries, joining Tabal and hurdler Eric Cray, the biggest contingent among the competing Philippine national sports associations. Torres-Sunang would be a 3-time Olympian after competing at the 2008 and 2012 Games. – Rappler.com