MARESTELLA Torres-Sunang leapt a distance of 6.2 meters on her fourth attempt to rule the women's long jump of the Southeast Asian Games athletics test event at the New Clark City Athletics stadium in Capas, Tarlac.
In beating her Thai and Vietnamese rivals for the gold, Torres-Sunang moved closer to her target, which is the 6.45 meter mark which earned her the bronze medal in the 2017 SEA Games.
“Nagpractice na ako dito. Pero this time, may mga foreigners. Hindi naman namin ito focus kasi, siningit lang ito sa training,” said Torres-Sunang, who set a national record of 6.72 meters which qualified her for the Rio Olympics three years ago.
Thai bet Parinya Chuaimaroeng settled for the silver with a 6.17 meter jump 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 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 coming up with heaves of 38.53 and 37.49 meters respectively for second and third places.
Torres-Sunang believes that she has now reached at least 70 percent of her peak in performance.
“Sa December, kailangan at nanduon na,” remarked Torres-Sunang, who is on her seventh stint in the SEA Games.
The two-day test event in athletics is expected to show how ready Filipino tracksters are for Games.
The 72-member Philippine athletics' team is gauging teh competition, with athletes from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam entered in the test event.
Among the Philippines' toughest challengers is top Vietnamese sprinter Tran Thi Yen Hoa, who will defend her crown in the women's 100-meter hurdles.
Hoa showed up at the 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.
Two years ago, Hoa took the gold in 13.4 seconds, and early this year, she had a 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 held in the test events.
In diving, 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.