Cray seeks another SEA Games golden double
KUALA LUMPUR – Eric Shawn Cray will be gunning for a golden double when the athletics competition of the 29th Southeast Asian Games goes full blast Tuesday at the impressive KL Sports City here.
Cray, the two-time Olympian, is scheduled to defend his 100-meter sprint and 400-meter hurdles crown in what promises to be a hectic and challenging day for the Olongapo City-born Filipino-American, who will be bidding to add more athletic gold medals to the women’s marathon title won by Mary Joy Tabal last Saturday.
The newly minted Asian championship 400-meter hurdles king opens action at 3:30 p.m. in the 100-meter men’s heats together with former three-time NCAA sprint champion Anfernee Lopena.
“We believe in the ability of Eric Cray of performing well despite his tight schedule,” said track chief Philip Ella Juico. “We pray that he can rise up to the challenge and complete a golden double for our country.”
Up next will be the women’s 100-meter preliminaries at 3:10 p.m. featuring fellow Fil-Am Zion Rose Nelson, who will carry the country’s cudgels in the event in the absence of defending champion Kayla Richardson.
Richardson, who became the youngest athlete to win the century sprint title at 17 in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games, has decided to focus on the 200-meter race set for Wednesday and the 4×100 and 4×400-meter women’s relays.
The 28-year old Cray will barely have time to gather his breath before returning to the track of the 87,000-capacity stadium in the men’s 400-meter hurdle heats at 4 p.m.
If his preliminary races go off without a hitch, Cray will be on the starting block of the men’s 400-meter hurdle finals at 8:20 p.m and then return one hour and 20 minutes later for the men’s 100-meter sprint finals.
Also entering the fray are Aries Toledo at the start of the men’s decathlon and Singapore SEA Games bronze medalist Rosie Villarito and Evalyn Palabrica in the women’s javelin throw.
The Filipino tracksters are bidding to surpass the country’s showing in Singapore two years ago when they went home with a sterling haul of five gold, seven silver and nine bronze medals to finish fourth overall in the seven-nation track meet.
A shoo-in for the gold would have been pole vault specialist Ernest John Obiena, who holds the national record of 5.61 meters.
But he suffered a season-ending knee injury just before he was scheduled to fly to this bustling city last Friday.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.