CAPAS, Tarlac -- Veteran long-jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang believes that she has now reached at least 70 percent of her peak in performance as she ruled the women’s long jump of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) athletics test event at the New Clark City (NCC) Athletics Stadium on Saturday.
“Sa December, kailangan nanduon na (By December, I should be ready),” said the 38-year-old Torres-Sunang, who is on her seventh SEA Games stint.
During the test event at the newly-built 20,000-seater NCC Athletics Stadium, Torres-Sunang leaped a distance of 6.2 meters on her fourth attempt to win the gold medal.
In beating her Thai and Vietnamese rivals for the gold, Torres-Sunang moved closer to her target, which is the 6.45-meter mark that earned her the bronze medal back in the 2017 SEA Games.
“Nag-practice na ako dito. Pero this time, may mga foreigners. Hindi naman namin ito focus kasi, siningit lang ito sa training (I practiced here already. But this time, we have foreign rivals. It’s not really our focus, it was just included in our training),” said Torres-Sunang, who set a national record of 6.72 meters which qualified her to the Rio Olympics three years ago.
Thai bet Parinya Chuaimaroeng settled for the silver with her 6.17-meter performance on her fifth attempt, while Vietnamese standout Thi Ngoc Ha Vu took the bronze (6.02 meters) on her first try.
Torres-Sunang's feat came as defending women's discus throw champion Insaeng Subenrat of Thailand heaved a mind-boggling 56.99 meters for the gold medal.
Subenrat's feat surpassed the 55.23-meter heave which won her the gold medal in the 2017 SEA Games, with Filipino bets Daniella Daynata and Aira Teodosio came up with heaves of 38.53 and 37.49 meters respectively for second and third places.
The two-day test event in athletics is expected to show how ready the Filipino tracksters are for the biennial meet which the country will host for the fourth time.
The Philippines will field 72-member athletics' team which put their skills to test against opponents from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Among the Philippines' toughest challengers is top Vietnamese sprinter Trần Thị Yến Hoa, who will defend her crown in the women's 100-meter hurdles.
Hoa showed up at the 20,000-seat New Clark City athletics' stadium all by herself and is getting ready to face Filipino bets Melissa Escoton and Jelly Diane in today's running events.
Two years ago, Hoa took the gold in 13.4 seconds, and early this year, she had a slower time of 13.79 seconds in the Vietnamese national championships.
Escoton, who had a time of 14.19 seconds in the recent PATAFA Weekly Relays, is her closest foe.
Twenty-four of the total 48 athletics' events in the SEA Games will be played in the test events
In diving at the NCC Aquatic Center, Koh Hui Yan of Malaysia took the women's individual platform honors with 11.8 points, beating Jana Mary Villaflor of the Philippines (8.4 points).
Malaysians Muhammad Syahmi Mohd Rezal and Mohammad Haris Mohd Rezal took a 1-2 finish in the men's 3-m springboard individual finals.
The 30th SEA Games hosting is supported by: Platinum sponsors -- Ajinomoto, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, MG Cars, Philippine Airlines, Skyworth and CooCaa. Gold Sponsors -- MasterCard, Milo, Pocari Sweat, NLEX, PInco and Razer. Preferred -- Asics, SM Lifestyle Inc. and BMW. Prestige -- Molten and Mikasa. Banking Partners -- Chinabank and PNB. Media Partners -- Bombo Radyo, Star FM and the Inquirer Group, CNN, United Neon and DOOH. Host Broadcaster -- NEP. Official broadcaster -- Sports and Action, TV 5, Cignal, ESPN and PTV 4. (PR)