PH long jumper Sunang to compete at Rio Olympics
MANILA, Philippines – Despite falling short of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics last week, long jumper Marestella Torres Sunang will go on to compete at the Games this August.
Sunang was approved by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) as the Philippines' representative by virtue of the "principle of universality." She will be competing in her third straight Olympics.
Seeking the universality clause was possible as Eric Cray had qualified for the Olympic standard in the 400-meter hurdles. Under this clause, if an IAAF member federation had a male qualifier, it can recommend a lady athlete.
Her choice as the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association's candidate to seek an Olympic slot under the universality clause was "unanimous," a source said during the track and field association's meeting last Friday.
But the track body said they would ask the IAAF how to avail of this.
Sunang is coming off a series of mediocre performances in chasing her third Olympics stint. Her form improved in the National Open when she leapt 6.60 meters last month. But she failed to improve on that last week in Singapore.
Sunang's national mark is 6.71 meters, which is one centimeter above the Olympic qualifying record. She achieved that mark in winning her fourth Southeast Asian Game long jump title in 2011.
She missed the 2013 Games as she gave birth. Her husband is shot putter Elizer Sunang, the former national record holder.
The other Filipina who tried to qualify for Rio was Mary Joy Tabal, the marathoner who placed second in the 2015 SEA Games. But she found the treacherous Heartbreak Hill at the Boston Marathon too tough and her time of 2:51 was far from the qualifying mark of 2:45.
Despite resetting the national mark 11 times in around two years, Ernest John Obiena is 15 centimeters short of the 5.70-meter qualifying for the pole vault. The UST engineering student will try to hit that in his two remaining competitions.
The bigger issue is how to reduce the tendency of Sunang to fade during the Asian Games and Olympics. She jumps so far from her best marks and fouls a lot.
"Part of this is due to trying to do things too hard," a source said.
In 2014, Sunang told Rappler why she would perform this way.
“I lost my confidence because I didn’t know how I was after giving birth,” she said then. – Rappler.com