Torres joins Cray, Tabal as Rio qualifiers

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – With long jump queen Marestella Torres-Sunang set to join hurdles specialist Eric Cray and marathoner Mary Joy Tabal in the Rio Olympics, the Philippines will be sending at least three entries in athletics for the first time since 1992.

And what makes the 2016 edition even more special is that the trio hit the qualifying standards of their respective events and will see action as qualifiers, not as holders of “universality” places.

“This is the first time (Phl is sending three qualifiers), although we’re just waiting for IAAF confirmation,” Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Philip Ella Juico said. “And we also hope (pole vaulter) EJ Obiena makes it before July 11 (the cutoff period for the qualification).

The Phl last had three bets in one Olympics in Barcelona, where Herman Suizo, Hector Begeo and Edward Lasquete competed.

Torres-Sunang became the latest member of the Rio-bound team after winning the gold medal at the Kazakhstan Open with a new Philippine record of 6.72 meters. The 35-year-old Torres-Sunang, who previously competed under the universality principle in Beijing and London, surpassed the entry standard of 6.70m.

“We already received the certified results of the women’s long jump at the Kazakhstan Open and it shows Marestella Torres-Sunang leapt to a distance of 6.72m with the wind recorded at +0.8 meters/ second, which was well below the legal limit of 2.0 m/sec,” said Juico.

“It’s a legal jump and she has surpassed the Rio Olympics entry mark. We’re now waiting for IAAG confirmation and we assume she’ll be in the list of official entries together with Eric Cray and Tabal when the said list is announced on July 12,” added Juico.

Chef de mission Joey Romasanta welcomed the addition of Torres-Sunang to the contingent that also includes boxers Charly Suarez and Rogen Ladon, weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia, taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora, table tennis bet Ian Lariba, golfers Miguel Tabuena and Angelo Que, and swimmers Jessie King Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi.

“It’s another remarkable feat as a result of hard work and determination,” Romasanta told The STAR, referring to the veteran internationalist who worked hard to qualify on her own after losing the universality slot she was initially given following the qualification of Tabal.

Romasanta said Team Phl is just waiting for the results of the bids of Obiena, swimmer Joshua Hall, and the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team as the period of qualification winds up.

Female golfer Dottie Ardina, who was tapped as a reserve, ruled herself out of the picture, according to the delegation chief.

“We received an email from her saying she’s relinquishing her slot as reserve player due to concerns over Zika (virus),” said Romasanta.

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