Torres, Herrera rewarded with Olympic berths
MANILA, Philippines – Marestella Torres, Southeast Asia’s long jump queen, is assured of another Olympic stint while the other mandatory slot for athletics has been reserved for steeplechase king Rene Herrera.
Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa) chief Go Teng Kok Tuesday confirmed Torres and Herrera, his two gold medalists in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games held in Indonesia two months ago, would fill up the country’s pair of compulsory seats for the sport in London Summer Games slated July 27 to Aug. 12.
The 30-year-old Torres reset her own SEA Games record with a leap of 6.71 meters in November, erasing the 6.68m she registered in 2009 in Laos.
The 2009 Asian Championship gold medalist also donned the national colors in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she failed to advance to the second round.
Herrera also pulled off a record-shattering feat in the SEA Games with a time of eight minutes and 52.23 seconds in the 3,000m steeplechase. It was Herrera’s fifth straight SEA Games victory.
“They are the best from among our track and field athletes and they deserve to be in the Olympics,” said Go, whose troops brought home two gold, nine silver and five bronze medals from the biennial meet.
Middle-distance runner Melvin Guarte, who won silver medals in the 800m and 1500m in Indonesia, could still become the country’s male mandatory representative if Herrera gets injured.
“We still have five months to decide who (between Herrera and Guarte) will go to London,” said Go.
Patafa would clear with the world-governing International Association of Athletics Federations if Torres’ record could earn her an outright Olympic qualifying berth.
Should Torres secure the green light from the IAAF, Patafa could send another female athlete to London.
Aside from Torres, boxer Mark Anthony Barriga is also assured of an Olympic stint after making it in the world qualifying boxoffs last year in Azerbaijan.
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