Calm before storm as PH bets brace for Rio war

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olympics20160802Long-jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang wants to make sure that her third and last Olympics will be the most memorable.

Sunang is in her mid-30s and is now a mother.

But she said this did not stop her from making it to her third straight Olympics since 2008 in Beijing and in 2012 in London.

In both her previous tries, the 2009 Asian Championships gold medalist and four-time champion in the SEA Games fell short of expectations.

This time, she said Sunday here in Rio de Janeiro, should be different.


“I hope to perform well,” said Sunang, who drew all the support from track and field chief Popoy Juico in her long road to Rio.

“She really wanted this and I saw how hard she worked to get to her third Olympics. She deserves to be there,” said Juico from Manila.

Sunang, the most senior member of the 12-strong Philippine team to this Rio Games, is leaving no stone unturned.

“I went through hardships in training,” said Sunang, who will compete in the long jump event here on Aug. 16.

With a new personal best of 6.72 meters, Sunang said she has a chance of making it to the finals of the Olympics for the first time.

“I want to surpass my personal best. Then there’s a chance to get to the finals,” she said.

Torres knows who’s around when the competition begins, and they include competitors who can do 7s on any given day.

“That will be the best finish in the Olympics. Eto na ang last ko (This is my last),” she said.

The head coach of the Australian boxing team in the Rio Olympics will help man the Philippine corner when the competition begins August 6 at the Riocenter Convention Center.

Kevin Smith, who comes from Liverpool, will assist Filipino coach Nolito “Boy” Velasco when Filipino boxers Rogen Ladon and Charly Squarez see action on opening day.

Or until the Filipino boxers remain in the medal hunt.

Velasco is the lone Filipino coach who was accredited to the Rio Games which fires off on August 5 at the Maracana Stadium.

The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines lobbied hard for an additional coach to assist Velasco but was denied in their appeal.

Velasco needs of a helping hand.

Smith, who served as consultant with the Philippine boxing team a couple of years ago, has agreed to assist Velasco out in the Philippine corner.

If needed, another Australian coach, Don Abnett, will be on hand to lend assistance.

Velasco, in turn, will also reinforce the Australian corner, and serve as cutman for the Aussie squad fielding two entries in the men’s division and one in the women’s side.

The ABAP, headed by Ricky Vargas, has planned to send an assistant coach, Romeo Brin, here to Rio at the last minute.

But the absence of credentials and an assurance that Brin will have a place to stay in once he gets to Rio forced the former boxer to cancel his trip.

Smith, who became head coach of the Australian team nearly three years ago, said he has no problem working with the team he used to help.

“I’m very familiar with the boxers. I know them well. They are great boxers with great chances,” said Smith, referring to Ladon, a light-flyweight, and Suarez, a lightweight.

The two Filipino boxers are first-time Olympians.

Smith said in the last World Olympic Qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan last June, he was the only Aussie coach around, and Velasco came to assist him in the corner.

With only two qualified boxers, the Philippine team was allowed only one coach.

Velasco has found the help he needs.

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