Marestella Torres Sunang seeks redemption in SEA Games swan song
JAKARTA, Indonesia – After a disappointing stint in the 2018 Asian Games, Marestella Torres Sunang has decided that it's best she hangs up her spikes in front of the home crowd in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
"Babawi ako in my last appearance in SEA Games 2019 (I'll redeem myself in my last appearance in SEA Games 2019)," said Sunang in a text message to Rappler.
On August 27, Sunang leaped 6.15 meters on her first attempt – a far cry from her personal best and Philippine record of 6.72m set in the Kazahkstan Open in 2016.
After a no jump on the second try and falling to 6.03m on her third attempt, that was it for the 37-year-old long jumper. Sunang packed up her things and walked away from the 90,000-seater Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, bidding farewell to her last Asian Games campaign.
However, Sunang did not let her recent performance shake up her confidence, revealing that she actually sustained a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury two months ago.
"After ng last competition ko last June, nag-hard training kami preparing for the Asian Games at nagkamali ako sa hurdles and box jump. Do'n ko nakuha ang MCL sprain. Pero slight lang naman, 'yun nga lang nagka-extra fluid ako sa knee," recalled Sunang.
(After my last competition in June, we endured hard training preparing for the Asian Games and I made a mistake in the hurdles and box jump. That's where I got the MCL sprain. But that was just a slight injury, it's just that I got extra fluid in the knee.)
With 16 months left in her athletic career – highlighted by 3 Olympic stints and 4 SEA Games gold medals – Sunang targets a winning final leap.
"I'm not happy with my performance, but I'm happy that I'm jumping again and recovered from injury," said the Olympian.
"I got offered by someone na willing ako tulungan na palakasin uli ang katawan ko at para na rin hindi mabilis ma-injury (who's willing to help me regain my strength and prevent me from getting injured easily)," she added.
Future of Philippine long jump at stake?
Even before the 2019 SEA Games, the Philippine record holder has been looking for an heir, just like how she was to legendary long jump queen Elma Muros Posadas.
Sunang hopes that she has become an inspiration to aspiring long jumpers among the youth who can eventually surpass the current national record.
"Of course po, hanggang ngayon naghahanap pa rin ako ng papalit sa 'kin para nang sa gayon eh after 2019 SEA Games meron na papalit at susunod na mag-SEA Games sa long jump in 2021," she said.
(Of course, I'm still looking for a replacement so that after the 2019 SEA Games, there will be someone else who can participate in the long jump in 2021.)
When the Olympian turns 38 years old in 2019, it's about time for her to fulfill her dream of spending more quality time with her son.
"May baby kasi ako, hatid-sundo sa school, hindi kaya ng mama ko dahil makulit masyado. Mama ko lang nag-aalaga sa ngayon dahil working ang husband ko," said Sunang.
(I have a child who I have to bring to and pick up from school because my mom can't handle him, he's too naughty. My mom has been the one taking care of my son because my husband is also working.)
But for now, the grind continues for Sunang as she sets her sights on a golden swan song. – Rappler.com