Torres-Sunang seeks redemption in Rio
RIO DE JANEIRO—Marestella Torres-Sunang tries to atone for her below-par performances in the two previous Olympics when she vies in the qualification round of the long jump competition on Wednesday at Maracaña Stadium here.
At 35 the most senior among the country’s 13-athlete contingent in this Summer Games, Sunang takes a crack at a finals berth in the morning preliminaries, brandishing a personal record that, on paper, is a cinch for qualification.
Only the best 12 in the field will dispute the long jump medals in the evening.
Less than a month before these Summer Games opened, Sunang topped an athletics meet in Kazakhstan with a personal and national record of 6.72 meters, 2 centimeters better than the Olympic requirement of 6.70.
In her second of three Olympics in London 2012, Sunang managed a 6.22m leap, fouling four times along the way and missing the 12th and last final spot by a scant 0.18 of a meter.
She said London’s cold drizzle spoiled her rhythm and left her quivering as she waited for her turn on the runway.
“That was a heartbreaker for me,” recalled Sunang, now a mother of a 2-year-old boy. “I was a bit cold inside and colder in the takeoff.”
“I was completely off-rhythm from the first jump and I fouled several times,” she added.
She managed 6.17m in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Admittedly a slow starter now, which she attributes partly to motherhood, Sunang said she needs sufficient warm-up before the actual competition on Wednesday.
“I’ll make sure I get practice jumps before we proceed to the stadium,” she said.
But before then, she hopes to spend Tuesday, her rest day, lolling around the flat she shared with swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi and her coach Jennifer Buffin in the Athletes’ Village.
Sunang hopes the lessons she learned in Beijing and London would help her compete better this time against a 32-strong field bristling with more than a dozen reigning and former world and continental champions.
“I need to focus,” she said. “I need to recognize that pressure is part of the game.”