MANILA, Philippines – Taking a cue from fellow 3-time Olympian, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who won a silver medal two days ago ending a 20-year medal drought for the Philippines, long jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang is hoping that lightning will strike again and bless not only herself but the country with another medal.
In an interview with Rappler, Torres-Sunang pointed out two motivating factors for her to “achieve the not-too-impossible” — the experience she gained from competing in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, and Diaz whom she has formed a bond with their shared experiences.
“This is my last Olympics and I want to end it with a memorable performance,” said Torres, who has tasted success in the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Championships many times over. Olympic success, however, has eluded her.
In Beijing, Torres-Sunang injured her left knee while taking off for her first jump. She finished her jump ranked 35th out of 42 competitors and didn’t advance.
In London, this time Southeast Asia’s only representative to the event, Marestella fared no better even if it was a smaller field. She ranked 22 in a field of 28 and didn’t advance for a second consecutive Olympics.
“I was disappointed,” recalled Torres-Sunang after the London Games. “I thought that I was done. When the opportunity for one last Olympics and redemption presented itself, I took it.”
Sunang passed the Rio qualifying distance of 6.70 meters with a new Philippine record of 6.72 in the Kazakstan Open this past July to book her place in the Olympics.
“I like to think that I am more mature now,” said the 35-year old Sunang who laughed at her statement.
“But I am more inspired now and will make the most of this opportunity. I am also inspired by Hidi (Diaz). She showed us that nothing is impossible. I have to believe in that and come out with a lot of confidence. I also want to do well for my family that inspires me without fail.”
Torres-Sunang will be one of 40 women and two Southeast Asians including Indonesia’s Maria Natalia Londa who will be vying for a medal come August 16.
Only the top 12 jumpers will advance to the finals. She is also one of 3 Philippine athletes entered in track and field competition along with marathon runner Mary Joy Tabal and hurdler Eric Shauwn Cray. – Rappler.com