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    With an American coach and team of experts, Marestella Torres expected to hit new heights in Rio Olympics

    Apr 2, 2014
    American coach James Lafferty, who is also CEO of British American Tobacco in the Philippines, says he is amazed by what Marestella Torres has achieved but believes she could do much more with a more comprehensive training. Jerome Ascano

    FOR making the Olympic standard with meager resources and training, former Asian champion Marestella Torrres can be considered the top long jumper in the world, according to her new American coach.

    Now James Lafferty, who handled the Nigerian marathon team in the 2012 London Olympics, looks to bring out the best in the 33-year-old Torres as they recently started to work with a team of experts in preparation for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.

    They Said It!

    “Rice is not an Olympic food. No rice-eating nation wins Olympic gold medals." American track coach James Laffferty

    Torres is returning to competitive action following her pregnancy and Lafferty believes that with proper training, the Filipina would exceed expectations.

    “I consider Marestella Torres as the No. 1 long jumper in the world today,” Lafferty, a sportsman/businessman who also happens to be chief executive officer of British American Tobacco in the Philippines, said.

    “The fact that she made an Olympic standard jump and never been taken into weight room by a strength coach and taught how to do weightlifting, she has never been talked to by a dietician on how to eat for an Olympic diet, she has never been viewed by a biomechanics person over video tape, she has never been to yoga class, she has never had a dedicated masseuse and physician, and she jumped an Olympic standard?

    “That’s the greatest athletic performance of all time,” said Lafferty Wednesday at the Orchid Garden Suites in Manila.

    The two first met during the London Olympics.

    Lafferty said in the lead-up to the Rio de Janeiro Games, Torres will train with a team that will include a doctor, masseuse, dietician, strength coach, sports psychologist, and biomechanics person.

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    “You have to have a team. The day that training athletes by themselves is over,” said Lafferty.

    The program’s primary focus in the early stages of training is diet, with Torres’ being supplied with no-rice meals.

    “Rice is not an Olympic food. No rice-eating nation wins Olympic gold medals,” Lafferty bluntly said.

    Torres, who started the program along with her husband shotputter Eliezer Sunang two weeks ago in Alabang where the team is located, is pleased with the results so far.

    “Hulog siya ng langit siya akin,” said Torres. “Ngayon, nagulat nga ako bakit ganun kabilis ang recovery ko. So nasa tama lahat.”

    Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association is also elated with the ambitious program, which costs the national federation only one US dollar each year.

    “He is now the honorary coach of Patafa to handle the training proram of Marestella Torres. He is not receiving anything except one dollar a year,” said Patafa president Go Teng Kok.

    “As far as I’m concerned, this is going to be a breakthrough for Philippine athletics,” Patafa chairman Philip Ella Juico said. “We have been encouraged to rely less on the government and this is exactly what we are trying to do. To be creative and approach the people who see Philippine athletics another chance for excellence.”

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    American coach James Lafferty, who is also CEO of British American Tobacco in the Philippines, says he is amazed by what Marestella Torres has achieved but believes she could do much more with a more comprehensive training. Jerome Ascano
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