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HomeSportHoffman, Cray, Knott will have to fight another day

Hoffman, Cray, Knott will have to fight another day

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

They had come a long way to conquer the ICTSI Philippine Athletics Championships in the hopes of clinching an outright spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

But Lauren Hoffman, Eric Shawn Cray and Kristina Marie Knott will have to fight for that another day.

The 25-year-old Hoffman managed to break her existing record en route to the gold in the women’s 400-meter hurdles and yet came short of an automatic Olympic berth during the meet held at PhilSports Track and Field Oval in Pasig City.

“I didn’t get the time that I wanted, but a win is a win and I was able to compete well,’’ said Hoffman after slowing down on the final bend coming home.

Her target was 54.85 seconds or better, the individual standard in her event at the Olympics. She crossed the line in 55.72 seconds.

Cray, the six-time reigning Southeast Asian Games men’s 400-m hurdles gold medalist, attempted to meet the Olympic standard of 48.70 seconds twice in the qualifying heats and during the medal race but managed a meet-best 50.51 despite asserting his mastery anew.

“I have to move on and go for it (Olympic qualifying mark) in succeeding races,’’ said Cray, visibly disgruntled with the result.

He has six more races to meet the standard time or to keep his spot or finish even better in the World Athletics qualification ratings to book a Paris berth.

Cray is currently 38th in the ratings with the top 40 guaranteed to see action in the Summer Games. The qualifying cutoff date is June 30.

Hoffman, who likewise shattered the national women’s 100-m hurdles standard earlier, is ranked No. 30 in the Olympic ratings, where the top 40 in her event will seize berths in the French capital this July.

Knott submitted a time of 11.2 seconds in the women’s 100 m during the qualifying heats before easily taking the gold medal in the final in 11.51, just a bit slower than the 11.07-second Olympic standard.

It was the same story for the national record holder in the sprint double (100 m and 200 m) after clocking 23.48 seconds in the 200 m.

“Honestly, my goal is to keep shaving down my time, but I’m still on the quest to qualify for Paris,’’ said Knott, who missed the 22.57-second mark in the 200 m that could bring her to a second straight Olympic stint.

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She remains in the hunt for a return trip to the Summer Games with her No. 42 ranking in the event, which will grant Paris berths to the top 48 in the Olympic ratings.

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