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Marestella gains berth in Rio Olympic Games

LONG jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang has been officially nominated under the Universality principle for a slot in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Sumang’s nomination was confirmed by Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Philip Ella Juico, who said that he received confirmation of the nomination from no less than the Technical Delegates of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The confirmation was e-mailed by Carlo de Angeli, IAAF Competition Department-Senior Manager to the PATAFA recently.

Juico said the principle of Universality is one of the fundamental principles of the Olympic movement.

In practice, Juico said, the principle involves, among others, accepting the participation of both genders in the Olympics, especially when one country or territory is represented either by only one gender or no athlete of both genders from a territory fails to attain the Olympic qualifying standard.

Marestella Torres makes her gold-winning leap in the long jump finals of the 2016 Ayala PH National Open Invitational Athletics Championships at the Philsports track and field arena in Pasig City. ROMAN PROSPERO

Torres-Sunang has qualified under the principle since she had  participated in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and was allowed free entry into the long jump event even if at this point, she still has not met the qualifying standard of 6.70 meters.

The 35-year-old veteran thus becomes the sixth Filipino athlete to earn a ticket to the Olympics after table tennis player Yan Lariba,  Eric Cray of athletics, Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez of boxing, and Kirstie Elaine Alora of taekwondo.

IAAF officials explained that Cray, who met the qualifying standard in the 400 meter hurdles as early as May last year is, as of now, the only official male entry of the Philippines in athletics.

Juico explained that in order to ensure participation of a Filipino female athlete, the PATAFA took the step of requesting the acceptance by the IAAF of Torres-Sumang under the said principle should she not meet the July 11, 2016 deadline of achieving the Olympic qualifying standard.

Cray’s and Torres-Sunang’s participation in the Olympics will be officially announced by the IAAF on July 12.

Juico said Torres-Sunang is very close to qualifying not as a result of the operation of the Universality Principle, but based on her most recent performances.

Recently, she did 6.60 meters during the  Ayala 2016 Philippine National Open at the Philsports track oval on April 7.

She followed this with a jump of 6.4 meters during the Singapore Open over the weekend.

There will be three more opportunities to qualify on her own in the Masters competition of the Singapore Open, the Taipei Open from May 19 to 20 and the Hong Kong Intercity Athletics Challenge in the first week of June.

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