Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) – June 30, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine long jump queen Marestella Torres Sunang spends three to four hours in traffic each day she drives back and forth from her home in Bacoor, Cavite almost daily to train at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

“It doesn’t help my training. I spend hours sitting. It’s not good for me,” said the three-time Olympian, who at 37, remains as the country’s top bet in women’s long jump.

“And Philsports is too crowded for us because it’s open to the public. It’s not conducive to training national athletes. There’s (human) traffic in the oval,” she said.

Thanks to Ayala Corporation, those days are gone.

These days, the 2009 Asian Championships gold medalist and holder of the SEA Games record at 6.71 meters needs 10 minutes to get to the training venue.

Ayala Corporation has linked up with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and has provided Patafa athletes a new home to train – the Vermosa Sports Hub in Imus, Cavite.

The 800-hectare property of Ayala Corporation houses a brand-new track oval, the first nine-lane oval in the country and one that meets IAAF standards.

It’s an all-weather track of balsam surface, the same surface that will be used in the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia in August. At the center is full-size football pitch of natural grass.

There’s also an Olympic-size swimming pool, and soon to open is the 600-square meter Sante Fitness Lab, where the athletes can train.

Jay Teodoro, estate head of Vermosa, yesterday said work is not done yet, with a grandstand soon to be built for the oval and billeting quarters for the athletes.

“We are also looking at building an archery facility. We have 800 hectares here and there’s a lot of space to develop. We are continuing our dialogue with other sports,” he said.

For the meantime, the track athletes are staying at The O Resort nearby, also courtesy of Ayala Corporation, and are shuttled back and forth Vermosa for their daily training.

“But why is Ayala Corporation doing this? Why is it spending time, money and effort for this?” said Patafa chief Philip Juico.

“Because they want to do their share in helping our athletes. I am very thankful to Ayala Corporation,” he added.

Members of the team put on red jackets provided by Ayala Corporation then climbed the stage in yesterday’s unveiling of the plaque formalizing their stay at Vermosa.

“We are treated like rock stars here. We can’t ask for more,” said Juico.