Friday, May 24, 2024
HomeSportBefore home crowd, Cray seeks Olympic standard

Before home crowd, Cray seeks Olympic standard

Eric Cray (middle) is one of the tracksters looking to join Team Philippines in Paris. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Eric Cray (middle) is one of the tracksters looking to join Team Philippines in Paris. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Eric Cray feels there’s no better place to punch a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics than in front of a supportive home crowd.

And the six-time Southeast Asian Games 400-meter hurdles champion has set that benchmark for himself at the start of the ICTSI Philippine Athletics Championships on Wednesday at PhilSports Track and Field Oval in Pasig City.

“Hopefully, I get to hit the (Olympic qualifying) standard here. The goal is to hit it in the heats,’’ Cray told the Inquirer.

The Filipino-American hurdling ace is scheduled to race on Friday’s morning qualifying heats and is a cinch to progress to the final in the afternoon. Right now, Cray is ranked 38th in the World Athletics Olympic qualification ratings with the top 40 making it to Paris. He is looking to keep his position until the end of the qualifying window on June 30.

“I’m within the qualifying window and after the nationals (Philippine Athletics Championships), I hope I’ll bump up a little higher,’’ said Cray. “But you know, I’m shooting for the standard and not worry much about the points.’’

Winning the race on Friday will reward the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympian 100 points in the ratings and could further boost his ranking with six more races remaining—four in Canada come June and two more this month.

In his fastest time yet this year, Cray clocked 49.86 seconds to claim the bronze during the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, California, three weeks ago, less than a second short of the 48.7-second Olympic standard.

“I know I’m in great shape. I’m not injured and I’m definitely ready to run,’’ said Cray, the Southeast Asian Games record holder in his event since 2013.

“I hope a lot of people show up and give me support, give me that home energy so I can hit the standard here and start getting my focus straight to Paris,’’ added Cray, who headlines a crack Filipino contingent in the five-day meet organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association headed by Terry Capistrano.

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