Four years ago in Beijing, Marestella Torres took her long jump national record of 6.63 meters and her Southeast Asian title against 40 of the world’s best, in hopes of giving glory to the country.
With her heart beating fast, being watched by nearly 90,000 people at the Bird’s Nest Stadium and millions more around the world, she flew from the take-off board to the sand pit, landing only 4.27 meters away, feeling pain on her left knee.
Despite the pain, she tried a second time but could only muster a 5.94 meter jump. With all that she had left in her, she achieved a 6.17 in her last and final jump, ending her 2008 Olympic dream, heart-broken and in tears. Only a dozen were to advance and she was 34th.
She was 27 years old then.
She quickly went back to work to improve her performance, motivated and determined.
The year after that, she won the 2009 Asian Championships held in Guangzhou with a leap of 6.51 meters and also got the gold and Southeast Asian Games record in the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang, Indonesia with her 6.71-meter leap!
On Wednesday, Marestella will plunge into action once again in the women's long jump, hoping to erase the stigma of her poor performance in Beijing and possibly come up with a leap of a lifetime.
According to the Olympic rules, each country is allowed to field two athletes each in track and field and swimming, without going through qualifiers. Her personal best record makes her chances legit for the Games and shows that she’s there based on her merit. It’s just a shade under the Olympic A-standard. She could have a chance of making it to the top 12.It’s not about how many times you fall, but how well you rise up again. And rose higher she did.
It’s about nerves, it’s about determination. It’s about a nation praying for an athlete who has given her best years to the sport. Her finest moment could happen in London.
All this is possible especially since Marestella got her groove back.
(NOTE: the Women’s long jump qualifiers will be held on August 7, Tuesday at 7:05pm in London, 2:05AM August 8 here in Manila.The finals will be on August 8, 8:05pm in London, 3:05AM August 9 here in Manila. )