Slowly but surely, Marestella Torres is regaining the form that made her Southeast Asia's long jump queen.

Torres, 35, had her best showing in her favorite long jump event since giving birth to her first born as she leapt 6.6 meters on her fifth attempt in the finals of the 2016 Ayala-Philippine National Open Invitational Athletics Championships Thursday at the Philsports track and field arena in Pasig City.

The Philippine team standout was a mere .4 meter short of the Olympic qualifying standard when she won one of the 20 gold medals at stake on opening day of the athletics' competition that lured a thousand athletes from seven countries, including the Philippines.

"This is a good start. Nakuha nang paunti-unti," said Torres, adding that the leap was her personal best in two years since giving birth to her son.

"Sa next competition, paghahandaan ko pa lalo," added Torres, who gets the chance to go for the Olympic standard of 6.70 meters in the Singapore Open in the last week of April.

Torres said inconsistencies in her approach in her sixth and final attempt kept her from improving on her distance, but her fifth leap was enough to beat two up-and-coming Malaysian rivals in Noor Shahidurin Nadia Mohd Zooki and Kirthana Ramamasamy, who settled for the silver and bronze, respectively.

The 20-year-old Mohd Zooki came just 5 cms shy of the Malaysian national record (6.29) when she cleared 6.24 meters.

"I'm very happy with my distance," said the long-legged Mohd Zooki, who is mentored by Russian coach Viktor Sotkinov.

Her teammate, Ramamasamy had a 5.8-meter leap for the bronze on her third attempt in the trackfest presented by Ayala Corp., and also backed by Milo Nutri-up, Philippine Sports Commission, Foton Philippines, PCSO, Summit Natural Drinking Water, Appeton, Asics Watch, L TimeStudio and media partners Business Mirror, Business Mirror Health and Fitness Magazine and radio station Mellow 94.7.

Meanwhile, reigning UAAP champion Angel Carino cleared 5.62 meters for the gold in the girls' long jump, with University of Santo Tomas Alyssa Andrade and Carino's schoolmate Mary Diesto taking the silver and bronze respectively, with leaps of 5.38 and 5.36 meters.

Army standout Richard Salano overtook former collegiate rival Rafael Poliquit in the last 300 meters, to grab the men's 5000-meter gold in 15 minutes 32.2 seconds.

Poliquit was 1.1 second behind and earned the silver.

Unheralded Fernando Reyes ruled the boys' 5000-meter in 17:08.1, with Marven Realda behind by 1.3 seconds.

Far Eastern University bets Joida Gagnao and Catherine Bristol made it a 1-2 finish for their school with respective times of 11:53.7 and 12:34.4 in the women's 3000 meter steeplechase.

FEU's Joneza Mie Sustituedo took the top honors in the girls' side in 12:34.3.

Chiang Kai Shek's Francis Edward Obiena took the boys' pole vault gold with a clearance of 4.0 meters, with Runrio's Roi Saragena and San Sebastian's Jon Emmanuel Reyes in second and third, with leaps of 3.4 meters each.

Aira Teodosio of UST heaved 37.25 meters for the girls' discus throw gold, with La Salle's Jewel Manaig and Pasig's Lemalyn de Leon placing second and third, with 26.49 meters and 25.48 meters.

Source: Tribune